Navigating the holiday season; Creating a unique experience
The Holiday season can stir up feelings and heighten a variety of mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. During this time of the year, you must be aware of your limitations and boundaries while practicing self-care. Whether you are gearing up to spend the holiday alone, anxious about problematic loved ones, or dealing with grief this holiday season, there are steps that you can take to support your mental health.
Acknowledge Your Feelings:
Spend time with yourself and explore how you feel about the holiday season. Are you excited to see your family but anxious about some of your family members’ behavior? Is there a loved one who has passed away that you wish you could spend this time of year with? Are you sad your family is now disconnected due to conflict or divorce? Acknowledge your feelings and remind yourself that it is okay to feel this way.
Keep Expectations Real:
Sometimes, social media can distort our perception of reality, especially during the holiday. Remember that social media is one big highlight reel that does not typically capture the story behind the posted photos. Instead of stressing about having the “perfect” celebration, try to take some pressure off yourself. Embrace your unique circumstances, accept your reality, and devise a plan to spend this season authentically.
Set Some Boundaries:
It is easy to overextend ourselves during this time of year, which can take a toll on our mental health. Take a moment to consider what your limitations are this season. Ask yourself, “What am I okay with? What am I okay with for a little bit? What am I not okay with?”. Then, begin to build your boundaries around your limitations. If you have trouble setting boundaries, adjusting how you perceive boundaries can be helpful. Ultimately, setting boundaries is an act of self-love and protection, which every human deserves.
Spread Some Good Vibes:
The holiday season is the perfect time to give back to the community. Studies show that not only does being charitable boost our mood, but it also triggers a sense of gratitude for the things we unintentionally take for granted. Gratitude can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Positive psychology research states, “Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships (Harvard Health Publishing, 2021).” Some philanthropic activities you can consider include volunteering at a shelter, donating to charities, or even treating the car behind you in the Starbucks line to a cup of coffee. It’s a win-win: you’re doing good for others and boosting your mood.
As we navigate this holiday season, let’s remember to pay close attention to our feelings, limitations, boundaries, and self-care practices. Embrace this time of year while remaining rooted in realistic expectations. We can create an authentic holiday experience that aligns with our mental health needs.
Harvard Health Publishing. (2021, August 14). Giving thanks can make you happier. Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier