For many people the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year. Some individuals and families are coping with mental health challenges and holidays can be a lonely or stressful time, filled with anxiety and/or depression.
If you are living with a mental health condition, stress can also contribute to worsening symptoms. Our recent Covid-19 crisis has made maintaining our mental health even more challenging for so many illnesses.
We would like to share a few suggestions for reducing stress and maintaining good mental health during this holiday season:
Accept your needs. Be kind to yourself! Put your own mental and physical well-being first. Recognize what your triggers are to help you prepare for stressful situations.
Write a gratitude list and offer thanks. As we near the end of the year, it is a good time to reflect back on why you are grateful and thank those who have supported you.
Manage your time and do not try to do too much. Prioritize your time and activities so that you use your time well. It is okay to say no to plans that do not fit your schedule or may not feel good to you.
Be realistic. We all have struggles one time or another, and it is not realistic to expect otherwise. Yes, even Zoom family gatherings can be stressful!
Set boundaries. Family/Friend dynamics can be complex. Acknowledge them and accept that you can only control your life.
Practice relaxation. Deep breathing and meditation are good ways to calm yourself. Taking a break to refocus can have benefits beyond the immediate moment.
Exercise! Schedule time to walk outside, bike or jog. Whatever you do, make sure it is FUN! Exercise naturally produces stress-relieving hormones in our bodies and improves overall physical health.
Set aside time for yourself and prioritize self-care. Schedule time for activities that make you feel good. It may be reading a book, going to the movies, listening to music you love or taking a walk. It is okay to prioritize alone time when you need to recharge.
Get enough sleep. Some mental health conditions can be triggered by getting too little sleep.
Volunteer. The act of volunteering can provide a great source of comfort. By helping people who are less fortunate, you can also feel less lonely and isolated – and more connected to community.