How to Care for Your Mental Health Over the Holidays

Rapid City, S.D. – The holiday season is hard for many people, especially here in South Dakota, where the temperatures drop and sunlight becomes limited. A special focus on your mental health can be incredibly helpful at this time of year.

According to Jacquelyn Galles, Licensed Professional Counselor and Integrative Nutrition and Mental Health Provider at Alternative Health Care Center, “The holidays tend to bring up a lot of unhealed grief or other issues that have manifested, such as depression, anxiety, and family issues.” It can be difficult to prepare and plan for this time, which leads to feelings of being overwhelmed.

While triggers look different for everyone, self-care can often be pushed to the wayside during this time which can also impact mental health. As it gets cold outside, we begin to cut back on regular exercise and lose out on sleep due to stress. This can lead to an overindulgence in coffee or sugary foods, which increases irritability. Some people may also begin to isolate and shut others out during this time.

Galles notes that if you’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness and despair, or if you’re avoiding committing to meeting with friends and family for holiday get-togethers, you’d likely benefit from seeking help. Holidays also tend to encourage overspending and financial stress, which is damaging to mental health. Additional guidance and support can help with these issues, as well.

Many insurance plans cover mental health therapy, so mental health support can be affordable. In some cases, there may be a co-pay. Most clinicians also often offer a payment plan if needed.

In addition to seeking outside support, there are steps you can take at home to support your mental wellbeing, with sleep being the most important. “If we’re not getting adequate sleep, we’re not going to be able to best manage our emotions or use our brainpower. Other things we can do to manage [mental health] is keep healthy nutrition in check, don’t overindulge, limit alcohol consumption, and move our bodies. Mindfulness and breathing techniques are easy tools to utilize and don’t take very long. But in that moment, we can use these tools to calm down our nervous system and reset our brain,” says Galles.

Acknowledging your support system, reaching out when you need help, and allowing yourself to say no when you feel overwhelmed are also habits that Galles recommends. The holidays aren’t perfect, and it’s important to let go of expectations and focus on the moment and finding connections with others.

Lastly, another important aspect of taking care of your mental health is nutrition. Studies have found a strong correlation between the nutrients we consume and our brain function. While Galles provides therapy services at the center, Dr. Robert Kuyper DC, DABCI, provides supplemental nutrition and exercise information that can aid with mental health, especially with depression and anxiety. They often test for B9, B12, and vitamin D levels and recommend that you supplement them throughout the holidays, even while traveling. According to Dr. Kuyper, “If you don’t take vitamin D, you’re just not getting the basic framework, especially with our endemic that we have of Vitamin D deficiency here in South Dakota.”

Galles also notes the importance of supplementing magnesium, as deficiencies in this nutrient, as well as vitamin D, can contribute to anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that they have anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory effects that can support your wellbeing.

To make an appointment with Galles or Dr. Kuyper at Alternative Health Care Center, call 605-341-4850 or visit their website:

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