The holiday season is a time to unwind and relax with loved ones. However, this time of year isn’t always merry and bright. In fact, the holidays can have a damaging effect on your mental health. Stress levels naturally rise as you try to accomplish everything you need to do.
Fortunately, you don’t have to approach the holidays this way anymore. It’s time that you start putting more attention on your mental health during the holidays. Finding ways to cope and get through this time can enable you to enjoy it more and leave behind any negative feelings you may have.
Here are some tips on how to prioritize your mental health this year when the holidays come around.
1. Set Boundaries
One of the main reasons why the holidays can go awry is because people fail to set boundaries. If you always feel like everything you have to do is pulling you in a million different directions, then you probably have an issue with boundaries.
You have to be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t overcommit yourself. Make sure that you have time in your day to get everything done before taking on something new.
You shouldn’t feel bad about telling people that you can only accomplish so much during the holidays. You also should take the initiative to bring other people in and have them handle some of your normal duties. Lightening your load can help immensely to better your mental health during the holiday season.
2. Create a Plan
The best way you can ensure that you don’t take on too much is to make a plan. You can create a spreadsheet or a calendar that tracks everything you need to do.
It helps to divide each activity into categories based on what you must do, want to do, and can pass on to someone else to do. Organizing things in this way can allow you to see what you can tackle this year. It allows you to put together a plan for the season.
Once you have a plan, it can ease the tension you may feel. You can track your progress and see what things you still have to do.
3. Face Your Feelings
Take inventory of how you feel about the holidays and address those emotions. Embracing mindfulness about your mental health allows you to overcome a stressful time by facing your feelings.
It allows you to become more aware of what you struggle with this time of year and gives you the chance to confront issues head-on. Acknowledging your emotions also helps you recognize which types of situations create the most stress, so you can avoid these scenarios.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is beneficial for your body and mental health, releasing natural hormones that make you feel better and give you an emotional boost.
Moving your body can also help you to get rid of stress while making your body stronger. The self-care benefits extend to boosting your immune system, which can help you to avoid illnesses and have a positive impact on your well-being.
Exercise also puts you in control over something in your life. The holidays often can make you feel out of control, so this can help balance things out. It makes you feel more level-headed and can give you the mental strength to push through.
5. Create a Budget
A common issue during the holidays is overspending. Money worries on top of everything else only work against you.
Fortunately, the easy way to avoid money woes is to set a budget and stick to it. Sticking to it is the important part. You should hold yourself accountable and make sure that you do not blow the budget and add to your holiday stress.
6. Stay Social
For many people, the reaction they have to stress is to close themselves off from others, which can lead to holiday depression. You may be the type of person who focuses so much on what you need to do and getting your to-do list accomplished that you don’t enjoy this time with the people you love.
Shutting yourself off from others will only bring you down even more. So, take time to stay social. Go out for lunch with a friend, or make it a point to spend time with a special loved one.
You should also reach out to others when you need help. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Even if you don’t need help, having the support of others can be very beneficial.
If you notice you may have the holiday blues, don’t hesitate to talk to a mental health professional. Sometimes, mental health issues can come up during this season and add to the frustrations.
7. Practice Meditation
Deep breathing, yoga, or meditation can be helpful during times when you feel overwhelmed or overextended. Taking 30 minutes to yourself can do wonders for your mental health during the holidays and into the new year.
Focusing only on being present, breathing, and calm allows you to clear your head and push aside the everyday frustrations. Meditation enables you to relax fully and just let go, which relieves the tension you may feel in your body and gives your brain some time to slow down.
If you have many people around you during the season, try creating your own Zen space where you can go each day to take 15 to 30 minutes to meditate and relax.
8. Avoid Drama
Make a rule this year that you won’t participate in drama. Everyone has a family member or friend who loves to stir things up and create a spectacle at family gatherings. Make a point to let these specific people know that you aren’t going to deal with their theatrics this year.
At the same time, you know who these people are in your life and how they will act. You can consciously accept them for who they are and ignore them when they start drama. Accept that you aren’t responsible for their mental health.
It can also help to learn coping techniques that can enable you to deal with these crazy family members. Psychology Today explains that you can learn methods for steering conversations away from hot topics that tend to get people acting out, greatly reducing dramatic incidents.
9. Say No
Saying no is one of the most powerful things you can do for your mental health. It is human nature to feel like you have to agree or go along with things because this is what you’ve always done, but this year try saying no more often.
Don’t be afraid to turn down invitations to holiday parties or other holiday gatherings if you don’t have the time. You’ll find that saying no helps you to avoid unrealistic expectations and lifts a lot of weight off of you during the holidays.
Putting your mental health first during the holiday season can help you to make it through much easier. You’ll find you enjoy the most wonderful time of the year, and your family will likely have a better time, too.