While many may regard the holiday season as a time of merriment and relaxation, others may find their mental health becoming increasingly exacerbated with sudden pressures related to stressful financial situations, ongoing social obligations and ever-changing plans.
Here are some ways to make the most of the holidays even if you may be struggling to fully enjoy the festivities this year:
1. Plan as best as you can: Try to ensure you have at least one consistent thing you can look forward to every day leading up to the holidays. Whether it’s an online yoga practice you wake up early for to devote a few peaceful moments to yourself or a coffee date with a loved one, having something fun scheduled in your day can lighten the burden of a busy to-do list. Self-care is just as productive as work, so consider scheduling it in mandatory!
2. String up some lights: Lights, and more specifically light therapy, are actually proven to be effective for seasonal affective disorder and other kinds of depression or mental health conditions. By hanging up some fairy lights of your choice you can get a nice kick out of transforming the same drab room you’re always in into a sweet hangout area.
3. Try something new: When we seek out novelty we get that nice boost of dopamine we’ve been craving and unsatisfactorily attempting to acquire by doom-scrolling or binge-eating. Breaking the “Groundhog Day” cycle of feeling as though every day is the same by trying something new, like going sledding or attempting an unfamiliar recipe or painting without any clear objective, can really help to slowly draw you out of your comfort zone and reconnect with the things you enjoy with the people you wish to share them with.
4. Recharge and reconnect: Whether that is spending time alone or with people who don’t drain your social battery, try to make time to enjoy your own presence as well as some good company. Don’t feel bad about needing to take a moment away from a busy gathering if it will help you to gather your thoughts and be your best self.
5. Be ok with not being ok: Maybe this isn’t going to be the best year ever. Maybe this one just sucks. That’s okay. If there are stressors beyond your control, you can at least lessen the pressure you place on yourself by expecting to act or feel a certain way just because it’s the holiday season. Simply show up as you are. You are enough.
Try to talk to yourself as you would with a friend. Be kind, patient and celebrate the small victories. No matter how much pain, grief, toxicity or other turmoil you may be experiencing in this moment, you were strong enough to get through it and you are more than capable to keep going. Accept where you are – that things may suck now – and have hope, or at least a bit of curiosity, that things will get better.
If all else fails, allow yourself to eat some good food, watch some silly shows or moves (they don’t have to be holiday-themed), pet a cat or other fluffy animal, go outside and do what makes you feel good. Self-care (both proactive and reactive) is vital. Give yourself that gift knowing it’s not selfish, but necessary.
Happy Holidays 🙂