Many people find that their mental health backslides right before a big holiday that will involve seeing family. Depression and anxiety are often heightened during the holiday season, especially if you either have a history of mental health struggles or currently live with a mental health condition. It’s really important that we all take the time during the holidays for self-care and place our own well being at the top of our priority list.
The holidays are tough for a lot of reasons—there are more items on your to-do list (which often leads to less time doing important self-care activities like meditating, going to therapy or exercising), often more alcohol intake and changes to your diet, plus the sun can be scarce. Also, if you aren’t able to be with those you love during the holidays, it can be difficult to watch others enjoy the time with their loved ones. All of these factors (and more) thrown into the span of a few weeks can be the perfect storm for overworking your nerves, your patience or your capacity to enjoy your life.
So if you’re someone who would like to enjoy the holidays a little more this year (or hate them a little less), try these tips for taking care of yourself over the next several weeks:
Keep your routines. Try to keep your routine as regular as possible, especially when it comes to self-care. Don’t blow off your weekly yoga class to finish a to-do list that can be done another time.
Monitor your budget. Take a good look at your budget, and don’t feel pressured to spend more than you can afford on gifts. The ones who matter most will appreciate you no matter what you give them. Budget concerns can be a huge factor during the holidays, so don’t let this sneak up on you.
It’s OK to say ‘no’ to an invitation. This one goes out to all the introverts in the audience. You’ve probably got a pretty good idea of how much time you need in a day or week to recharge. If three holiday parties in a week is going to drain you of your ability to function, decline the invitations that you need to. Everyone is busy this time of year, so your friends will understand if you can’t make it to an event. If your feeling of obligation is too strong for you to say no, consider coming early to help your friend prep and then leaving a few minutes into the party. Do what works for you and don’t feel guilty for needing some “me time”.
Don’t isolate yourself. On the flip side, don’t isolate yourself if what you need is to be with friends or family. Reach out to the supportive, caring people in your life and enjoy some time together. Loneliness is really common this time of year, and the people you reach out to will probably be glad to hear from you.
Keep your physical health in good shape. Eat well, don’t drink too much, and get enough sleep. These seemingly simple instructions can be particularly difficult to follow during the holidays. Take care of your body so it can take care of you.