The holiday season is upon us and along with all the merriment can come a hefty helping of stress, depression, and anxiety. Whether you are a host or a guest there is a lot of work that goes in to keeping up tradition and making a gathering special. For some, the idea of a social event, or reunion with challenging family members can bring up heightened emotions and unwanted stress. It is also the time of year that puts the most strain on the bank account and you may find yourself wondering how you are going to manage. This can all add up to a recipe for disaster, causing us to act in ways we regret later and can ultimately be harmful to our mental health. It is important to keep things in perspective and not loose sight of the life that we work so hard to maintain and return to come the new year. Remember that like all things, the stressful aspects of the season will pass and a return to your routine is inevitable. Here are some tips to maintain normalcy through the holiday season:
- If you are someone who keeps a regular health regimen, now is not the time to stray too far. Allow yourself time to relax alone or with loved ones but don’t let it take the place of your exercise routine. Vigorous exercise is a great way to channel extra stress (just imagine running away from your mother’s comments about marriage and babies) and keep up the flow of depression fighting endorphins.
- Don’t overdo it with food and alcohol. The holidays bring out the glutton in all of us, but we always regret it when we step on the scale or wake up and remember that we threw up on Grandma. Allow yourself to have a piece of pie (not 12) and 1-2 alcoholic beverages. When the pressure of your ‘fun’ uncle offering you, another shot of rum in your cider, or your co-worker adding another ginger bread cookie to your plate starts to feel like too much, remind yourself that it’s their way of getting into the holiday spirit, but it doesn’t have to be yours.
- Take a moment to feel gratitude for the people in your life who care about you and want to celebrate with you.
- Be giving and forgiving. It always feels good to give something to someone you love or to someone in need. If you can’t afford expensive gifts, try offering something of yourself. When appropriate, giving a shoulder rub, writing a caring poem for a friend, or telling a holiday themed joke to a coworker is enough to make a person feel special. If it is in your budget, buy a coffee for someone who looks like they could use a hot beverage. Lastly, forgive yourself. No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes especially during highly stressful times. Even if you are someone who loves the holidays, they take extra effort that you don’t normally spend on a day to day basis. You might slip up and snap at your mother even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t. You might run late for a family dinner or have one too many at a work event and embarrass yourself. You are a work in progress and you are putting in the daily efforts to be your best self. Take a deep breath, put on your warmest ugly sweater and try to make the most of this holiday season!