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Mental Health During the Holidays

How do we stay resilient during the holiday season? Some dread the holidays, and others look forward to them but wind up feeling overwhelmed with all they entail…but there are definitely things we can do to be proactive.


Some of the best holiday self-care isn’t limited to the pampering kind. Many of your normal habits and routines to stay healthy are extra important to be doing now. Things like prioritizing sleep or moving your body can help you to tolerate some of the extra chaos that might come. Healthy eating is good too, but remember that one day of holiday foods isn’t going to wreck your health – savor the treats that come with the day, just don’t let it become a habit for the whole season.


Limiting or altogether taking a break from social media can be a good idea if you find that it makes you feel bad or leads to comparing yourself to others. Staying off media can also help promote mindfulness of your actual experiences, which can help with both ruminating on the past and worrying about the future.


Remember that it’s ok to say no or to pace yourself, and let others know ahead of time what activities you will be doing or not doing. The holidays might look different this year, and we are all a little out of practice in being around people in the previous ways, which can elevate anxiety.


What if family contributes to stress? You might make sure you get a seat next to a relative you do enjoy, or at least one that can help you in responding to someone who is more of a challenge. If all the people get overwhelming, find a quiet spot you can retreat to for a break, or bring a quiet activity to do with one of the kids in your family. Have trouble sitting still? Offer to do some kind of helping task that keeps your body moving. Be prepared with a few planned responses to relatives who are likely to bring up sensitive subjects. Be ready with other topics and ask others questions if the focus on you becomes uncomfortable. If your family is not available, or you find that you are struggling in your family relationships right now, don’t underestimate the value of creating traditions with good friends or neighbors instead.

Above all, remember you are human, and part of that humanity means we all struggle at times. Give yourself permission to notice your own needs, and be sure you are creating time and space to meet them.

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