Managing Mental Health During the Holidays
As wonderful as the holiday season can be, it can also be a difficult time for a number of reasons. Festive celebrations might mark sad anniversaries or be a reminder of traditions or people you have lost. Perhaps your version of holidays didn’t include celebrations, and the commercialism and giving spirit emphasizes more stress than good tidings. This blog is going to explore some practical tips you can apply to reduce your stress over this holiday season regardless of your participation in any festive activity or not.
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Know Your Limits
- Do some holiday baking
- Make homemade Christmas tree ornaments from bits and pieces you find in nature
- In honour of giving gifts, donate to a charity of your choosing
- Do a Secret Santa or "white elephant" gift exchange so that the responsibility of buying gifts for everyone is distributed among the members of the group, whether it is family, friends or coworkers
(Psst! Click here to read a guided relaxation to reduce muscle tension.)
- Know your effective grounding/calming strategies ahead of time - take a time out to practice calm breathing, use a crossword for mental distraction, go for a walk, bring a book to read, etc.
- Tap into your feelings - recognize that guilt can arise from a desire for harmony, but if you are sacrificing your own feelings or needs, then you can set a boundary
- Give yourself permission to set a boundary
- Be direct with your boundary and have a consequence in mind, e.g., “if you continue to talk about this subject, I’m going to leave”
Click here to learn fun ways to enjoy the holidays with your partner
Keep a Routine
Get Enough Sleep
The holidays can be a time of indulgence, including with food and alcohol. For individuals who are in eating disorder recovery, the holidays can be an especially difficult time as triggers may be present around or on the table. With alcohol, it may be commonplace to have a few drinks during holiday gathering. Practicing mindful drinking (sip, savour and space out your drinks) can lead to healthy moderation and avoid the negative side effects of alcohol such as decreased mood and increased anxiety.
Ask for Help
[Editor's note: This blog written by Ashley Greensmyth is cross-posted at https://www.parallelwellness.ca/mental-health-at-the-holidays]
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