The holiday season is often a time of mixed emotions and experiences, from being excited about family gatherings and festivities to managing grief or conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder. The holidays are also often seen as one of the most challenging times of the year in terms of physical, financial and emotional exertion. But fortunately, there are ways to thoroughly enjoy your holiday season and make it truly the most wonderful time of the year. Here are some ways to do that that will be beneficial to your mental health.
Allow Yourself to Breathe
The main source of mental health issues for most people during the holidays is simply being too busy. There’s so much to do and, it seems, so little time. Long to-do lists, from buying and wrapping gifts to attending numerous parties, can quickly become exhausting if you aren’t pacing yourself. Not only that, it can take much of the enjoyment out of a season of celebration.
That’s why it’s important during the holiday season to regularly take time (schedule it, if you have to!) to sit back and relax. Think about the positive aspects of the season. Take a break with a good book or a journal. Make a pot of coffee and just chill out (or warm up) for a little while. Practice deep breathing and/or meditation. Talk to a close friend or family member. Just make sure you’re not filling up your calendar with so many things that you can’t schedule rest.
Accept Things As They Are, Not As You’d Have Them Be
The holiday season often emphasizes situations that don’t and won’t change, no matter how much you’d want them to. You know which of your relatives can be trickier to spend time with and which events may be triggering. Do your best to process hurt as it comes, and enjoy the good when it arises.
Create And Enforce Boundaries
Everyone has limits for what they can handle, whether that involves doing specific tasks during the holidays or being around certain family members. Take some time to figure out a healthy balance, and be prepared to exercise your ability to say yes and no. Then seek out people who will support you in those decisions. During the holiday season, it’s important to remember that while there are many things in your life that you can’t control, one thing you can control is how you choose to act and react. It’s perfectly okay to set protective measures around yourself this season in order to keep your personal wellness in check.
Take Care of Yourself
With these two tips in mind, remember that taking care of yourself holistically is just as important, if not moreso, now than in any other time of the year. Healthy diets, exercise habits, sleep and regular schedules may look different this time of the year. These foundational parts of your life are still important, however, so aiming for a balance that feels good for you will definitely help you manage the mental and physical stressors of the season. Continuing to exercise will help you blow off steam and continuing to plan healthy meals will help you feel better throughout this time. And of course, remember to be kind to yourself—if you need to skip a workout, that’s perfectly okay, and it’s totally fine to indulge in decadent meals at holiday parties. Another thing to keep in mind is sticking to a regular sleep schedule that will help you maintain a good attitude and mood. Finally, you can keep your overall physical health intact this season by maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols during holiday gatherings. Use your best judgment when it comes to staying home, wearing a face covering and washing your hands regularly.
Too much of anything can be a bad thing, which is why it’s so important to exercise self-control and moderation. From eating and drinking to spending money and spending time with certain people, everyone has a different definition of what moderation means for their activities and lifestyle choices. If these lines are crossed, they may result in unfortunate consequences. Give yourself some grace if moderation does become difficult to enforce during the holidays, but remember that you’re the only one who can decide what moderation looks like to you. This is also a good opportunity to create an accountability relationship with trusted loved ones so that they can help you stay healthy. In many cases, your celebrations will be much safer and more enjoyable if you do practice moderation.
Stick To Your Budget
One of the main stressors of the holiday season is finances. If you want to get through the holidays without wincing at your credit card statement in January, keep a close eye on your wallet, plan a budget and do everything you can to stay within your limits. There are plenty of resources available to help you plan a successful holiday season without spending a lot of money.
Be Kind (To Yourself and To Others)
The holiday season is in part about showing love and goodwill to others, and the most enjoyment in this is gained not from receiving those blessings yourself, but from giving them away. The simplest gift you can give someone during this season is an act of kindness, whether it be to a neighbor or a random stranger you meet while out shopping. Everyone is in the same boat during the holiday season of making sure things don’t get too out of hand. Showing a bit of kindness, patience and solidarity with people is one way to make the most of the season and lighten your personal load a little bit. There are plenty of ways you can do this, too, from volunteering at local events to helping someone pay for their groceries to inviting a close friend to share a meal.
Unfortunately, negativity is often common during the holiday season. Needs and wants make themselves known and the entire year may end up being analyzed under the microscope. This can lead to pessimism and mental/emotional strain. But it can also easily lead to gratitude, if you choose to think that way. An easy way to be grateful is to simply start writing down three things you’re grateful for each day. Remember that trip you took, or that one conversation you had? Remember when you had that really good meal or spent quality time with that loved one? Being grateful is proven to improve your mood and attitude about life. You might be surprised by just how much brighter and more joyful the season becomes when you choose to cherish the good things of the year and leave the bad to be learned from and/or forgotten.
If it turns out that this holiday season is a tougher one than usual, remember that there are always people on your side. Reach out to them. Whether that person is a family member, close friend or mentor figure, remember that you are loved and people value you enough to care if you’re not feeling your best. Also, you can reach out to us at Community Access Network. We’re here not only to help you meet your wellness goals, but also to walk alongside you through tough times. Give us a call today or walk into our office!