With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, it is common for depression and mental illness to spike during the holidays. But a recent study suggests physical activity and eating habits help reduce the opportunity for health problems.
“For many people, reduced sunlight exposure during the winter will throw off circadian rhythms, disrupting healthy sleep and pushing five to 10% of the population into a full-blown episode of clinical depression,” says Stephen Ilardi, associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas.
Mr. Ilardi’s conclusion is straightforward – human beings thrive from the energy of the Sun. Our ability to fight off seasonal depression is literally solar powered. When humans are deprived of sunlight, we lose vitality and strength from a physical health and mental health perspective.
It’s not always difficult to leave the house for a walk outside during the summer. But as the weather turns colder for many Americans, this is where the behavioral health challenge really starts. Reach out to someone you can easily talk to and try to enjoy free holiday activities together in your area. Make sure to consider your health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic before leaving the house, so grab your winter coat and mask up for virus safety.
But here’s another catch: University of Kansas researchers also found sugars in many holiday sweets can induce metabolic, inflammatory, and neurobiological processes connected to depression and negative feelings.
Ask any social worker about substance abuse or depression patients they work with and it’s not uncommon to hear stories of poor eating habits that lead to health problems. Maintaining a quality diet is essential to feeling your best during the holiday season and improving your behavioral health therapy in general. So, you might think twice about that extra slice of Pumpkin Pie this week and take a walk instead.
Happy Thanksgiving from the entire team at Opus Behavioral. We appreciate you and everything you do for addiction and substance abuse patients.