December 20, 2023

Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays

By Zachariah Seifert
Anxiety & Depression
Mental Health & Wellbeing

Connect with Your Social Circle

It is important to surround ourselves with people who love us and want the best for us, whatever that looks like. We are relational beings whether we always enjoy it or not.

We all tend to have different tolerance levels for the time and intensity we spend with others, so monitoring your limitations and boundaries is important. Spending time with the people you love is significant in developing closeness and affection, increasing life enjoyment and purpose.

Research shows that having an active social circle leads to numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. These include living longer, better memory, stronger immune systems, healthier daily routines, and a greater sense of purpose and self-worth.

Additionally, it improves our ability to cope with life’s challenges and to rely on others when needed. Spending time with your people is important and ultimately beneficial for you in so many ways!

Manage Expectations of Yourself and Others

You have ultimate control over yourself, your expectations, and your reactions to others. It is important to manage those variables because what you cannot control are the actions, interactions, moods, words, etc., of those others.

At times, we can fantasize about what we want to experience or how we would like someone to be, but unfortunately, this is always out of our control. These uncontrollable variables might directly impact your enjoyment of the holiday season, that is, if you let them.

Keep what you can control away from the influences of those external variables and confidently move through what is outside your scope of control. Other people can be frustrating. Families can carry tension. There can be disappointments from our own over-complicated expectations, etc.

Doing our best to stay engaged with what we need in moments and minimize our responsibilities to what we have a hand in changing is crucial. It is important to identify what you expect and ultimately challenge yourself to identify if you have control over that expectation this holiday season.

It will take a lot of pressure off of your shoulders and increase your enjoyment overall.

Take a Break and Give Yourself Some Personal Time/Check-In with You

It is not discussed enough during the holidays about how intense it can be to commit to various family and social events in such a small window, ultimately leaving us drained and, at times, overwhelmed. Managing our limitations during this period is important.

Sure, something is to be said about pushing through some discomfort, but deeply understanding what feels “too far” is important to staying in touch and engaging with your needs during the holidays.

As we traverse through this season where we often try to crunch a significant volume of interaction into a limited amount of time, it can very much feel overwhelming. You may experience a more demanding period than you would like and could even develop some anxiety based on the historical evidence of over-committing.

It can be hard to balance personal thoughts and needs in the hurricane of the holiday season when something about it wants us to show up for the people we care about.

Sometimes, the season can also feel inaccessible or challenging to get excited about, particularly if we have experienced a loss around a prior holiday or period from a previous year. It can set the holidays up for negative emotions such as grief and loss or frustrations and anger.

Our memories of simpler times and the people that have been lost that made the holidays so enjoyable to us can be a tough realization. Doing our best to remember and represent their memory can increase personal enjoyment and participation.

Understanding how the holiday season may affect you individually is crucial in identifying what you need during each stage of the holidays. It is necessary to get some quality time to sort out your thoughts and put in order what you are hoping to experience and/or achieve during this period.

Numerous options could help you stay in touch with you, but here are a couple of my favorites:

  • Take a break and write your thoughts down, identifying feelings and testing their validity
  • Write down goals prior to engaging this holiday season; what do I want to get out of this party or visit my parents?

Maintain Healthy Patterns

Sleep is crucial:

Give yourself adequate time to rest and sleep. Emotional demands are heightened during the holidays due to the volume of family/social interactions or perceived responsibilities during the season. It is important to use sleep to reset and maintain energy levels so that you can participate in the way you choose.

Continue your exercise routine:

It is important to maintain a workout routine to support overall health and energy levels with the changes that come from the season. In the winter, it can get dark, especially early, adversely impacting mood and energy levels. It may cause a lack of desire or lethargy when considering going to the gym or starting up that workout video.

Maintaining a workout routine will support your health, the maintenance of energy levels, and balance against the natural changes that come with the season.

Manage your intake:

Especially during the holiday season, there is an increase in access to wonderful treats. Often, treats that are only available this time of year. This can signal to our brain, conscious or unconscious, that “you should take advantage now. You won’t have access in two months”.

Treats that mean so much during the holiday season due to their connection to somebody special or a beautiful memory from the past can have inverse health content. Often, these treats have higher sugar, fat, and caloric contents that normal foods do not have.

Continuous snacking is often easy during the holidays due to access. It is not bad to enjoy treats in moderation, but be careful to set limits (for example, using a snack container) if needed and identify what you are putting in your body.

Search for Gratitude and Share Happy Memories

It is important to remember the positive because, at times, we can be overwhelmed by the negative of the day-to-day as our media and consumption tend to be saturated with destructive content. Happy memories allow us to connect joy to our past and reminisce on people and seasons that have significantly impacted our journeys.

There are delightful benefits to engaging in happy memories, including improving mood, increasing stress resilience, and interrupting negative thinking patterns. All of which help improve overall happiness and enjoyment. Allowing time and space to critically engage in the positive is crucial in getting the most out of the holiday season.

Embrace Joy and Wellness This Holiday Season

Remember, taking care of your mental health is as important as any other holiday preparation. This season, give yourself the gift of balance and well-being.

If you find yourself needing support or guidance, remember that our team at Optimum Joy is here to help. Reach out to us for personalized strategies to navigate the holidays with peace and joy.

Let’s make this holiday season a time of true rejuvenation for your mind and spirit.

Written By

Zachariah Seifert

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