With its twinkling lights, festive decorations, and joyful celebrations, the holidays are a big deal, a time of merriment and togetherness. But for many people, it can also bring about stress, anxiety, and a sense of overwhelming pressure. Balancing the season’s expectations with the demands of your regular day-to-day needs can be difficult.
If the holiday season is difficult for you, you’re not alone. A recent poll for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that Americans are five times more likely to say their stress level increases during the holidays. Here are the best ways to put your mental health first this holiday season:
How Do I Take Care of My Mental Health This Holiday Season?
- Acknowledge your emotions: As the holiday season approaches, acknowledging and validating your feelings can be helpful. While feeling excitement and joy is natural, it’s equally valid to experience depression, anxiety, grief, or loneliness. The pressure to meet societal expectations can be overwhelming, but remember that your feelings are valid, and it’s okay not to be a constant source of holiday cheer.
- Be mindful of who has access to you: The holidays can be a trigger for people who have experienced trauma in the past, such as childhood abuse or neglect, and the holidays can bring up difficult memories. You don’t have to spend time with family members who are challenging to be around, who you find triggering, or who aren’t a healthy part of your life. You don’t have to give people access to you just because it’s the holidays.
- Set realistic expectations and boundaries: Setting realistic expectations for yourself is critical to preserving your mental health during the holidays. It’s easy to get swept up in the picture-perfect images portrayed in movies and commercials, but reality often looks different. The holidays don’t have to be flawless, and you can spend your time how you want.
- Find balance: The holiday season often involves a packed calendar of social engagements, from family gatherings to office parties. While connecting with loved ones is essential, carving out time for solitude and self-reflection is just as important. Find a balance that suits your personality and energy levels. Allow yourself quiet introspection during the festive chaos.
- Eliminate gift stress: Gift-giving is a central aspect of the holiday season, but it can quickly become a massive source of stress. Instead of succumbing to the pressure of extravagant presents, focus on thoughtful and meaningful gifts. Consider experiences, handmade items, or the gift of time spent together. Remember, a gift’s value lies in its sentiment, not its monetary worth.
- No money woes: Finances often play a significant role in holiday stress. Establish a budget for gifts, decorations, and festivities, and stick to it. Financial strain can affect mental health, so be mindful of your spending to avoid post-holiday financial stressors. If resources are limited, explore creative and cost-effective ways to celebrate, emphasizing the season’s spirit over material extravagance.
- Prioritizing self-care: During holiday preparations, remember to prioritize self-care. Get good sleep, and prioritize things that are important to you. Treat yourself with the same kindness and consideration you extend to others during the holiday season.
- Start the season prepared: If you’re taking any medications for your mental health, such as medications for anxiety or depression, make sure you request your refills on time so you don’t run out during the holidays when your provider may be hard to reach, and the pharmacy is busy and low-staffed. It’s easy to get distracted and lose track of time, especially if you have to travel for the holidays.
- Deal with grief and loss: The holidays can be a difficult reminder of absent loved ones. Acknowledging and expressing grief is crucial, allowing yourself to feel the emotions. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who understand the complexities of this time for you.
- Ask for help: If the holiday season proves particularly challenging, don’t hesitate to seek support. Many people experience heightened stress during this time, and reaching out for aid is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you’re working with a therapist, ask if they’re available for remote sessions during the holiday season if you’re traveling.
Mental Health Treatment In Los Gatos and San Jose
Navigating the holiday season with a focus on mental well-being requires a blend of mindfulness, self-compassion, and intentional choices. By acknowledging emotions, setting realistic expectations, and prioritizing self-care, you can take proactive steps to protect your mental health amidst the holiday buzz.
At Lumos Clinical Research Center, we offer help, guidance, and support. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive mental health services. Contact us today and take your first step toward healing. We have convenient locations in San Jose, CA, and Los Gatos, CA.