2 months ago

A reminder that not everyone will be spending the happy holidays in a happy way 


Makenzie Chilton is the founder of Love Your Mondays helping people get happy at work

By Makenzie Chilton*

* Makenzie Chilton is the founder of Love Your Mondays helping people get happy at work. Part of the Tahona Society Competition in 2018 winning to support @mindthebar , a mental health resource for people in the service industry. She lives in Vancouver and her favourite tequila drink is a Tommy's Margarita half sweet. Follow her @loveyourmondays on Instagram. 

Longer work hours, reduction in boundaries and feeling disconnection lead to a spike in mental health crisis at holidays. 

Instead of spending time describing signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety or low mood, I wanted to cover how even in a stressful time we can lean into our resiliency and increase our coping to give us wellness. 

The job of our brains is not to make us happy, it is to keep us safe

The job of our brains is not to make us happy, it is to keep us safe. Hardwired to look for that ancient predator that may attack us, if we are in a higher level of stress our brains will protect us by seeking out other potential stressors. 

Anxiety is the manifestation of this, historically a wonderful protection mechanism but in the modern world we have confused the tiger that may attack us with too many phone notifications, rude customers and rushing to get to work on time.

Depression or low mood also serve a purpose, historically preventing isolation and keeping us together in a group or tribe. 

If we think about emotions they are truly ways for us to look at what we need, more information for us to look at where the gaps might be in our self care. 

If we think about emotions they are truly ways for us to look at what we need

When we look at either anxiety or depression for example it is best to come to these feelings knowing that they have supportive reasons to be there and asking what is it that I need in this moment to care for myself. If you are experiencing anxiety it may be supportive to reduce some activity and get organized, and if you are feeling in a lower mood that may be a time to reach out and have some meaningful connections. 

Food, sleep, outside, movement!

Implementing long term behavioural change strategies when you are already busy and stressed about the holidays probably won't stick, when I work with people the first thing we do is look at the easy four: food, sleep, outside, movement.

If you aren't feeling like yourself, look at the easy four and make some shifts where you can. 

There is not shame in having a few tequilas to celebrate the season, and finding balance with other fuel will help support the celebrations in being happy ones

1. How are you fueling yourself? There is not shame in having a few tequilas to celebrate the season, and finding balance with other fuel will help support the celebrations in being happy ones. 

Ensure that you give space to get some quality sleep

2. How is your sleep? Shift work can really take a toll on our bodies and mental health. Ensuring that you give space to get some quality sleep in when you aren't feeling your best will shift your mood immensely. 

3. When is the last time you've gone outside? Ideally in nature but there is an abundance of research showing the benefits to our brains and our mental health when we go outside for as little as 30 min a day. 

Moving your body increases your mental health

4. Moving your body increases your mental health by sending endorphins (happy chemicals) to your brain. It doesn't have to be traditional exercise, walking to work or dancing behind the bar counts. 

Reach out, tell someone and know you aren't alone.

Lastly, connection is so important, and that includes reaching out to someone if you are experiencing long lasting feelings of discontent or sadness. It's ok to not be ok, even if it is a jolly season. Reach out, tell someone and know you aren't alone.