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How Do You Take Care of Your Mental Health Over the Holidays?

December 24, 2019 Hannah O'Grady

Why do you need to take care of your mental health over the holidays? For many people, the holiday season is a highlight of the year; with the holidays comes spending time with the ones we love, a vacation from work (albeit brief), reconnecting with old friends, and enough food and drinks to fill us until the new year. However, for other people, the holidays can be a nerve-wracking period filled with turmoil, negative interpersonal interactions, and complete and utter mental exhaustion. It is essential to stay mindful of the disparities that people experience during this time of year and to remain sensitive to the experiences of others. For those grappling with mental health difficulties, or any obstacles in general over the holidays, here are some tips for coping.

Self-Care for Good Mental Health Over the Holidays

Set Boundaries to Protect Your Mental Health Over the Holidays

Setting boundaries leads to good mental health over the holidays. I am a huge fan of setting boundaries, even when it comes to the ones I love. When the holidays come around, many people may see their schedules rapidly filling up with social engagements. Although I do enjoy seeing old friends and beloved family members, being surrounded by people for hours on end does not necessarily help with my social anxiety.

I have found that carving out time for myself and setting boundaries in terms of how much time I spend with people has been very beneficial for my mental health. On some days when my depression crops up, I take the time to take care of myself. I have noticed that if I do not set boundaries and take the time to recharge, I show up at social events mentally exhausted and feeling depleted. 

Setting boundaries also comes in handy when it comes to topics of conversation. My family and friends enjoy their alcohol, and with this consumption comes intense and sometimes personal discussions that make me uncomfortable. I am not talking about grandma asking me every year if I have a partner (the answer is always no, grandma). Instead, I have experienced family members making comments about my body. You do not have to put up with such conversations, even if it is your family member. Using "I" statements, express your discomfort at topics that cross the line, and move on. 

Pleasant Events Improve Mental Health Over the Holidays

When people think of holidays, they think of being surrounded by friends and family; however, this is not always the case for everyone. In fact, for some, holidays are the loneliest time of the year. I am a Crisis Text Line counselor, and there is always an increase in suicidal texters during the holidays. Typically, they are expressing intense feelings of loneliness and depression, and a fear that they are not meeting the high expectations set out by many regarding the holidays. When we do not have the fortune to be around those who care for us during this time of the year, it is vital to schedule pleasant events for ourselves. I like to go for walks or pick out a few books that I hope to read. I reconnect with old friends who I have not seen in years and make an effort to surround myself with caring people, whether it is family or not. 

Set Realistic Expectations for Better Mental Health Over the Holidays

Just this past week at work, my supervisors were asking me if I had fulfilled the New Year's resolutions I had set at the beginning of this year. They then proceeded to ask what my resolutions would be for this upcoming year. When it comes to the holidays, people often set high expectations for themselves. When I was grappling with an eating disorder, I undoubtedly experienced these high expectations for myself, as I vowed not to let my strict diet slip during Christmas dinner. However, when we set expectations that are unrealistic or unhealthy, not meeting these expectations can be damaging and lead to feelings of hopelessness. Be gentle with yourself and be mindful of the pressures being placed upon yourself, whether these pressures are stemming from you or others. 

APA Reference
O'Grady, H. (2019, December 24). How Do You Take Care of Your Mental Health Over the Holidays?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, November 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2019/12/how-do-you-take-care-of-your-mental-health-over-the-holidays



Author: Hannah O'Grady

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