To some, the holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year but the time period between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be difficult for several reasons. Issues within the family, a recent loss of a family member, health crises and other struggles can make the holiday season difficult to manage. When you include the enormous amount of holiday activities being exhausted only makes the season stressful. When you add in the colder weather and less sunlight each day, seasonal depression and health issues can compound to make the season less than merry and bright. With all of this in mind, finding ways to guard your mental health during the holidays is very important.
5 Ways to Guard your Mental Health During the Holidays
Keep Expectations Realistic-
Let’s face it, we have all been taught at an early age to expect magnificence during Christmas. The Jolly Old Man bringing presents, the food, the stories, the parties and the lights all set us up to have high expectations for the holiday season. The memories of childhood seem so magical and it is only natural to want to maintain that each year or to give the same to our kids. The problem comes when we set our expectations so high that is isn’t obtainable. In a way, this is setting us up for a huge let down. It is much more manageable to focus on a couple of your favorite childhood traditions than it is to focus on all of them. Finding ways to guard your mental health during the holidays will help you enjoy your time with family and friends.
The holiday season is busy! There is no other way to put it and it can create holiday fatigue and burnout really quickly. Look at each invitation and prioritize them. Only pick the most important ones and send a nice Christmas card to the people you have to decline. It may also be helpful to only accept 1 invite per weekend, if possible. Take time to slow down and enjoy the lights, smells and sounds of Christmas.
Take Inventory of your Mental Health Often-
Because the season is so busy, it is easy to lose track of where your mental health is during the season. Usually we only realize that we pushed too hard after the season is over and we have to put ourselves back together. Take a mental health inventory every few days so adjustments can be made to schedules. Doing this will keep the “after the holiday let down’ from being so bad that it takes weeks to recover.
Focus on Things that you Enjoy Doing-
There are so many activities to choose from during the holidays. Shopping, cooking, baking and parties just scratch the surface of holiday happenings. Make sure that you leave time to do the things that you really enjoy doing. If you enjoy holiday baking, then schedule time for that activity. If the Christmas Parades are your thing then make sure that nothing gets in your way of attending. Making time to do the things that you enjoy means that you will be happier during the holiday season.
Give Yourself Permission to be Happy-
This one may sound kind of dumb but sometimes it is necessary. If you lost a close family member during the year, the holiday season can be really hard to manage. You may even feel guilty if you find yourself feeling happy. It is perfectly ok to have joy during the holidays even if they fall during a time of grief. So, give yourself permission to have a good time and to be happy.
These are just a few things that will get you started in making your mentally strong this season. Finding ways to guard your mental health during the holidays will help you enjoy your time with family and friends. Focusing on things that you enjoy, slowing down and keeping realistic expectations are a few ways to guard your mental health during the holidays.
To find other ways to make it through the holiday season, check out our article 5 Ways to Survive the Holidays.