Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays

Remembering to take care of your mental health during the busy holiday season can be a challenge. Whilst we plan to enjoy celebrations, social gatherings and family rituals, the expectations surrounding holiday time can lead to heightened feelings of stress and anxiety.

Large family reunions, public outings, financial hardship or loneliness can be triggers during the holiday period can exacerbate symptoms of mental ill-health.

To help support wellbeing these holidays we’ve pulled together some expert advice and strategies to keep you focused and mindful of your mental health this festive season.

Remember your strengths
The end of year break can be happy, great, stressful and hard time all at once. The thing to remember is to always retain your own sense of power through it all. You know best about your wellbeing and any triggers that may effect your mental health. To walk we always rest on our back foot to push forward, we pull on our own strength to keep moving, and direct us to places that help us live well. Remember your own strengths to ensure you enjoy the holiday break.

Connect with community
Get involved in volunteer work to connect with others, boost self-esteem and help other less fortunate. Volunteer work is a wonderful way to gain perspective and decrease your risk of depression. Providing purpose and fulfilment in a time when you might feel isolated and lonely.

Only take on as much as you can handle
To cope with holiday stress don’t feel pressured into cooking a huge family banquet or hosting a gathering at your house The Mighty advises. Be realistic about your capacity during the festive season and share responsibility amongst family and friends.

Be present
Holidays are often busy. We spend lots of time planning, buying gifts, hosting and celebrating. To keep ourselves from being lost in ‘doing mode’ and move towards ‘being mode’ we suggests practising mindfulness and allowing ourselves to be in the present moment.
Lots of activities can be done mindfully. Bring all your senses to any activity from walking, eating, shopping, conversing, or exercising. This allows us to experience the present moment, leading to deeper awareness and appreciation of our lives.

Disconnect from work
In the age of technology it’s often expected that you’ll be contactable and ‘online’ even during holiday periods. To manage this make sure you communicate your holiday leave periods to colleagues and clients and be clear that you will not be contactable by phone or email. Resist the urge to check your work phone or accounts during your holiday to give you the best chance to fully unwind and recharge.

Be mindful of others
While many of us are happily anticipating a Christmas filled with family, fun, food and frivolity, for others Christmas is a reminder of sad, troubling and traumatic events in their lives.
Remember to be mindful and sensitive to the reactions of others. That grumpy person at the shops, your Uncle who drinks too much, that person who won’t engage in any of the ‘fun’…they all have back stories. When you find yourself thinking “what is wrong with you”, think “what has happened to you” instead.

Strive to be kind with your words, non-judgemental in your thinking and generous in your interactions (even when the other person doesn’t demonstrate these things). You just might create a moment of happiness for someone who really needs it!

Written by Heather Hammond

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