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The holidays are a time for family, friends, and reflection–that’s the expectation anyway. In reality, the holiday season often brings its share of stress. Let’s talk about some ways to look after your mental health during the holidays.
The following content is for informational purposes only. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are having a medical emergency or mental health crisis, seek help immediately. Call 911 or the crisis lifeline at 988.
Take Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays With These Tips
Set a Budget
Much of our holiday stress comes from financial worries and overspending on gifts.
One way to alleviate this is by creating a holiday budget and sticking to it.
You can start by writing down the names of the people you want to give a gift to. Then decide how much money you have to spend. With this information, create a budget that you know you can stick to.
If money’s especially tight this year, think about handmade gifts. Service gifts are usually very much appreciated as well and will let people know how much you love them.
Decorating our homes for the holidays often helps to lift our spirits. Find (or make) decorations that truly make you happy.
The winter blues are a real phenomenon and the cold and darker days can bring anyone down, but cheery holiday lights and decorations can make things seem cozy, rather than dreary.
Also, think about getting some indoor plants if you don’t already have some. They are wonderful for bringing more life into your home.
Self-care is always important, but maybe more so than ever during the holiday season. At this time of year, we tend to be more focused on our to-do lists and taking care of others than ever. But, we can’t forget to take care of ourselves.
Attending to your own well-being must always be a priority. You should actually schedule in time specifically for self-care if necessary, so you don’t forget or put it off.
Self-care includes exercise, by the way. This is one thing not to let fall by the wayside just because you’re busy. Take a little time each day for a short walk if all else fails. It can do wonders for your health–mental and physical.
Know Your Limits and When to Say No
You know yourself best. Don’t let things get too hectic or stretch yourself too thin. It’s okay to say “no” to some things!
In fact, knowing your limits will actually empower you. It can help ensure you don’t get burnt out. After all, if you run yourself ragged, you can’t enjoy the season at all!
Relax and De-Stress With a Hobby
Because the holidays can be so busy and stressful, make sure to step away from the hustle and bustle now and then.
There are all kinds of hobbies to enjoy that actually relieve stress and allow you to shift your focus and relax. Here are some of our favorite ideas for hobbies that reduce stress.
We all know the saying “It’s better to give than to receive.” And, it’s true! Helping others really does bring a satisfaction and joy you can’t find anywhere else.
There are so many opportunities to volunteer, especially during the holidays. Here are a few ways to volunteer this year:
- Toys for Tots
- Gift Wrapping
- Food Banks
- Operation Santa
Or, check out even more ideas for volunteering with your family during the holiday season and all year long.
Planning your time is a simple, yet crucial, habit to keep during the holidays. When everything is planned early on, you can work your way through your to-do list.
Get started buying (or making) your Christmas presents extra early, so you aren’t in a rush. Write out your Christmas cards early, even if you won’t be mailing them quite yet.
Getting things done earlier will help ease the stress before the holiday arrives, so you’ll hopefully be already prepared and ready to go! Then you can just enjoy your time with family and loved ones.
Enlist the help of others during this hectic time of year. This is such an important way to look after your mental health during the holidays (or anytime life feels overwhelming). Remember, you do not have to do everything alone.
Maybe that means making your holiday dinner or Christmas party a potluck. Just do what you need to do so you don’t have to carry the weight of the holidays all by yourself.
Keep Routines Consistent
I know routines tend to fly out the window over the holidays, especially if you have kids on school break. Despite the challenge, sticking to a regular schedule can make a big difference.
Try to get up and go to bed at relatively the same time each day. Eat your daily meals consistently at the same time and so on. This will help your body keep its stress levels lower and can even keep you healthier.
Meditate and Practice Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness are perfect ways to help lower your stress every single day. If you’re a beginner, try for just five minutes every day. Then, you can slowly work your way up.
Focus on your breathing, and try to tune everything else out. If you have thoughts about things you have to do, simply allow them, and then return to focusing on your breath.
There are so many free apps and videos for different guided meditations to try, so find one you like, and get started.
Journaling is a great way to release tension and stress in a healthy way. There are lots of ways to journal, so choose what feels right for you.
For example, a gratitude journal can help you be happier in your daily life as you focus on the good each day. Record at least one thing you are grateful for every day.
A sleep journal can also be beneficial. Before you fall sleep, write down every nagging thought and all those things on your mental to-do list. This is a terrific way to release your worries, leaving them on paper, so you can quiet your mind and get to sleep.
Even just writing out what you did each day and the things that bothered you can also help you release any negative emotions, so you don’t bottle them up.
Get Enough Sleep
Since we’ve just talked about sleep, I know it’s hard to get enough rest with everything going on over the holidays, but it’s crucial. Sleep and stress are closely related. The less sleep you get, the more stress you will have.
Try to stick to a relaxing sleep routine, and get to bed on time. Reduce screen time in the evening to help maintain your natural circadian rhythm. Read about more ways to get more quality sleep here.
We mentioned a gratitude journal, and expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to reduce stress around the holidays or anytime.
Ensure you remain grateful each day, no matter how stressful things get. You can share your gratitude in a journal, as we mentioned above, share it with your family as you sit around the dinner table, or even on social media.
Most of us have much to be thankful for, whether that’s a family to love and who loves us, a roof over our heads, our pets, a job that enables us to buy the things we need, or our health. We can all almost always find something to be grateful for (even in times of difficulty or stress).
When we look at this bigger picture, the smaller everyday (and holiday) stressors become less important.
So, with these 13 ways to help you look after your mental health during the holidays, enjoy the season as stress-free as possible. Let’s bring the joy and relaxation back to our holidays!13 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health During the Holidays | #mentalhealth #holidays Click To Tweet
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