Can you believe it, Christmas is just a few days away?! Even with the best preparation, the week before Christmas can often turn into a whirlwind of last-minute tasks, cooking, travel – and, dare it be said … STRESS!
It is not uncommon to experience feelings of anxiousness, stress, or even depression during the holidays, especially if you have recently experienced a major life change, such as the loss of a loved one or relationship. Managing these feelings, while juggling the Christmas chaos, can be difficult, so it’s best to prevent stress, as much as possible, so that you don’t become overwhelmed.
Now is not the time to neglect your self-care routine and healthy habits. In fact, maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and practicing mindfulness can help you to stay grounded, ward off holiday stress, and manage your emotions, so that you can enjoy the holiday season and all the wonder it has to offer!
Our gift to you, a few mental health tips to help you prevent stress and maintain your mental health this holiday season.
Maintain healthy habits. To be at your best this holiday season, stick to the fundamentals of good health. Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, include regular exercise or physical activities in your daily routine, and limit time on social media.
Avoid over-indulging. Over-indulgence can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and stress. Try having a light, healthy snack before holiday meals to help you say no to unhealthy foods. And, if you simply can’t say no to all the festive fat-filled, sugary temptations of the season, remember that moderation is best – one cookie, not two. (Good luck!)
Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. Self-medicating is not the answer. Though it may offer temporary relief from anxiety or depression in the short-term, regular or excessive substance use can lead to poor decision making, addiction, worsening symptoms of mood disorders, and health concerns.
Try deep-breathing exercises, meditation or yoga. Taking a little time every day to center yourself can help you to stay calm and emotionally balanced, even in stressful situations.
Let go of judgement. Conflict with family or friends during the holidays can lead to judgment, self-criticism, and stress. Try to accept yourself as you are, and your friends and family members as they are. Notice when you are making judgements and take a step back. Do your best to release thoughts or feelings of “wrong”, “bad”, “inappropriate” or “inadequate”.
Keep realistic expectations. Everything does not have to be perfect to make for a happy holiday. Try to be present and open to what each moment brings. After all, it is the people that you love and the memories you will make together this holiday that really matter.
Acknowledge your feelings. Just because it is the holidays, does not mean you need to pretend that you’re the happiest elf in elf-land. The holidays can be extremely difficult for many reasons, even more so if you are grieving a loss. Your feelings are valid and need to be acknowledged and released. By all means, have yourself a good cry, if you need to! And, don’t be afraid to talk about the feelings you are experiencing and lean on others for support.
Reach out. If you find yourself feeling lonely or isolated this holiday season, seek out community, religious or other social events or communities for support and companionship. Many may have websites, online support groups, social media sites or virtual events to take part in.