It’s that time again – the holidays are all around us.
For some, that means family gatherings, fun holiday festivities, and the most wonderful time of the year. For others, the holidays are difficult to handle and can bring up uncomfortable or unpleasant emotions.
Changes in weather, shorter daylight hours, and the feeling of not being able to escape ‘holiday cheer’ can lead to higher stress levels during this time of year. No matter the reason for how you’re feeling, it’s important to take care of yourself and practice self-care.
We’ve put together a list of self-care tips that you can screenshot to revisit when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
1. Set your limits – Don’t be afraid to say no to activities or holiday engagements if you’re not feeling ready or up to them. Prioritize yourself.
2. Keep an open mind – If the activity doesn’t push your limits, going outside of your comfort zone can be a good thing. You know you best, so try to keep an open mind about getting out of the house and trying new things.
3. Create a schedule – When you have a lot to get done over the holidays, it can be easier to plan a few tasks a day over the course of a few weeks. Some people prefer to get everything done in one or two days and then not worry about it again. Create a schedule and stick to what works best for you.
4. Don’t feel obligated to decorate – Stores are filled with holiday decor (which seems to be earlier and earlier each year) geared to decorating your home with cheer. If you don’t have the energy to decorate, don’t spend time worrying about it. Stick to what makes you happy.
5. Prioritize sleep – Stress and anxiety can contribute to insomnia and poor sleeping habits. Holiday activities, like wrapping presents and over indulging in glorious Hallmark movies, can make for some pretty late nights. While enjoying holiday festivities are fun, make sure you’re still getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
6. Treat yourself – Take time to do something that makes you happy. Whether that’s buying yourself something you’ve been wanting, meditating, taking a trip, booking a massage, or driving through Christmas lights, find something that brings you joy.
7. Be active – You’ve probably seen this tip on every blog about mental health and self care. It’s here for a reason. Being active helps your overall mental and physical health, and that doesn’t mean you have to sign up for a gym membership. Go for a walk, do home workouts, jam music and run, play a sport with friends, do something to get your blood pumping and your body moving.
8. Budget for gifts – Money is a common stressor for people, especially during the holidays. Don’t feel obligated to spend more than you have in order to please people. Set a budget for yourself and the people you have to buy for. If you enjoy buying lots of gifts, start saving for presents at the beginning of the year. Create a ‘gift fund’ and save money each month to contribute to the fund.
9. Reach out to local organizations – Some years are harder than others monetarily. Reach out to local organizations, like churches Toys for Tots, or Salvation Army, for help and an application. It’s okay to ask for help.
10. Volunteer – Your time is one of the best gifts you can give. If you’re feeling lonely or looking for something emotionally fulfilling, try volunteering with an organization you’re passionate about.
11. Watch out for triggers – Certain songs, places, movies, and activities can be triggering during the holidays. Identify your triggers and ways you can manage your emotions if you unexpectedly encounter them. It’s not always possible to avoid them, so practice what you’ll do if you come across one.
12. Laugh often – It may seem ridiculous to suggest laughing during a hard time in your life. However, laughter has proven to release endorphins that momentarily relieve stress, depression, and anxiety. Watch a funny movie, spend time with friends or family, or do something you truly enjoy to encourage laughter. It really can be the best medicine.
13. Don’t suppress your feelings – The holidays can cause some pretty strong feelings to arise. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, loneliness, anxiety, stress over money problems, or any other reason for being emotionally distraught, let those feelings out. Cry when you need to. Release your feelings in a healthy way.
14. Don’t pretend everything’s okay – Losing a loved one is hard. Really, really hard. You don’t have to pretend everything is okay when you miss that person. Remind yourself of the happy times you had with them. Place their photo at the seat they used to sit in. Do what you need to do to help manage the pain, but don’t pretend that it isn’t there.
15. Talk with someone – This can be anyone: a relative, friend, or mental health professional. Along with not suppressing your feelings, don’t be afraid to talk about them with someone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know about how you feel, research mental health professionals in your area to set up an appointment.
The holidays can be a hard and stressful time, but they aren’t unmanageable. We hope the tips we’ve put together will help you with self care during this holiday season.
If you’re finding it hard to cope with your emotions during this time, please reach out to us. Let our professionals be a healthy outlet for you during the holidays. We can get through this together.