The Holiday Season can be a time of joy and a time of stress. During the holidays, an added layer of activities and responsibilities (both real and imagined) are added on to our life routine. In addition to this “extra” layer of activities and responsibilities, we have encountered a year that has been life-changing due to Covid-19; social injustices; and the Presidential Election. These events have significantly impacted our communities and our country! They have also impacted our mental health and wellness! The reality is that “we can’t do things like we used to do”. This reality will also impact family traditions; rituals; and celebrations over the holiday season. Protecting and taking care of our mental health and wellness during the Holiday Season is important. Below are some tips on how to protect your mental health and wellness this Holiday Season while keeping joy alive this Holiday Season:
- Be realistic and put the “ideal” Holiday Celebration out of your head. There is “no” perfect holiday celebration. We tend to “fantasize” about what the ideal holiday celebration should be instead of what it really is. The putting of “realistic” expectations in place up front decreases disappointment.
- Do something spiritual and family-oriented. Too often we focus on the materialism that is associated with the holidays. The holidays are about more than just gifts!
- Recognize people for whom they are. You aren’t going to change the attitudes and behaviors of family members and friends; but you can change and control how you respond to them.
- Schedule sooner than later the activities (zoom gatherings; baking; decorating, etc.).
- Check guilt at the door if you aren’t able to meet a holiday obligation. Remember the meaning of the holidays and focus on the relationship with those around you.
- It is alright to say “NO”. Putting boundaries in place will help you from feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
- Take care of you. Take breaks and do something nice and relaxing for you. We often focus on other things and people during this time that we forget to focus and take care of ourselves.
- Know your “Breaking Points”.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Connect with those who are important to you on the things that matter the most.
- Do things in moderation. We tend to over indulge on food, alcohol, and over-spending during the Holidays. This only leads to regrets and more stress after the Holidays.
- Remember family, friends, and those who are often forgotten during this joyous time. Reach out to people.
- Do random acts of kindness. Do something to “give back” to your community.
- Be grateful and thankful.
Remember the meaning of the holidays! The sharing of quality time with family and loved ones in a safe way is all that truly matters! Wishing you and your family a joyous and happy Holiday Season!
Dawn Shelton-Williams, MSW, LCSW