Is the holiday season a stressful one for you? We understand. There are a lot of pressures to go places, see people and make sure everything is done right. Plus, the weather is colder and the days are shorter, and if you have seasonal depression, it’s likely starting to rear its ugly head. But fear not! This holiday season doesn’t have to take a toll on your mental health. Here are some simple things you can do to minimize the stress of the season and enjoy it as much as possible.
A lot of undue holiday stress comes from setting unrealistic expectations. We want to do everything and be there for everyone and have the best holiday parties. We want to make this the best holiday season yet. But many people end up feeling miserable rather than joyful because of these expectations. Instead, take some time to plan out your holiday season. Set reasonable goals and don’t expect yourself (or others) to be able to do—or want to do—absolutely everything. You’ll find a lot of stress will lift off your shoulders if you become willing to take a step back and figure out what you can actually do while still keeping your stress level manageable.
Unfortunately, a lot of shame, guilt, frustration and annoyance come with the holidays. Bad habits resurface and the cold and darkness of this time of year can have a negative effect on many people. So make it a point this holiday season to preemptively set boundaries on negativity and excess. Let this season be about spending time with loved ones, enjoying your festivities to the best of your ability and celebrating the good in your life. Remember, setting boundaries doesn’t mean you have to eliminate things you enjoy. It just means practicing moderation so you won’t look back on your decisions with regret.
Take Time for Yourself
Take some time for yourself every day and remember that it’s okay to feel the things you’re feeling. Depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions often present more of a problem during the holiday season. But you don’t have to give them ammunition in the form of ignoring them, rushing around or taking on too much responsibility. If you allow yourself time to slow down and practice deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation or stress-relieving exercises, you’ll end up feeling a lot better for the rest of the day and the rest of the season. Taking time for yourself might also mean spending time with loved ones who are able to support you.
Take Time for Loved Ones
Holidays usually mean spending time with family and friends. So make sure this year to purposefully make time for those you care about most. The holidays are a great time to offer support to and be supported by those close to you. The holiday season is also often a time of remembering loved ones who are no longer around. So take time to remember them and the way things were when they were present, and then accept that things will be different without them. From there you can create new experiences and new memories, and in doing so, honor the memories of those loved ones.
The holiday season can be just as much a time for gathering together as it can be for being lonely. Just remember that there are people who care for you. Don’t be afraid to speak up or pull a trusted someone aside for a conversation if you’re having a difficult time. You matter. And if you know someone who might need a little extra guidance and support, take the initiative to reach out to them. It’ll go a long way toward showing them that you care.
Practice Gratefulness and Kindness
Thanksgiving may be the official day to celebrate gratefulness, but it can set the tone for the rest of your holiday season if you let it. Take time to remember and be thankful for all of the good things that happened in the past year. Having an attitude of gratitude can go a long way toward keeping your mental well-being in check. Beyond that, think of other people and of the fact that everyone else is likely going through similar stressors during this season. Choose to show kindness to others, even if they don’t show kindness to you, and change the world in the little ways that only you can.
It’s important to be able to discern the difference between things you can control and things you cannot control. Take time this holiday season to determine which parts of your life fit into which categories. Make plans to do what you can to change the things you can. But then allow yourself to let go of trying to control uncontrollable things and remember that these things don’t have to negatively affect or define you.
Your mental well-being is important to us at Community Access Network. If you have more questions or would like to meet with one of our physicians, contact us today to schedule an appointment!