Many of us would agree that managing mental health during the holidays can be challenging. Here are a few tips for making the most of the end of the year!
Remember you are not responsible for everyone’s emotions, just your own. And you DO have authority over those. Likewise, it is helpful to remember that others aren’t responsible for our emotions either. Yes, some situations are more difficult than others, but we don’t have to give difficult situations or people power over us. If you find yourself feeling upset at a holiday gathering, try using the mantra: “The situation doesn’t control me, I control me.”
Understand that it is possible to sit with uncomfortable feelings without judging them so much. Often it isn’t the “problem” that causes suffering but rather our resistance to it. If you are stressed or tired, remember that does not mean everything is falling apart or that you’re failing. Part of life is “negative” emotion. It is there for everyone sometimes, and the feeling will not last forever. Practice letting yourself label the feeling and notice where it is in your body instead of attempting to escape it. You may find it allows you to move through the emotion more quickly.
Do your best to show love and respect to yourself to at least the same degree you are showing it to others. For example, while you are practicing generosity or focused on being a “good” host or guest, you may also want to tend to your own desire for some solitude or other forms of self-care. Self-care may look like a long bath or massage, but it could also be purposefully working with yourself on forgiving your imperfections or shifting thoughts that aren’t empowering or helpful.
Carry a talisman of some sort in your pocket, purse, or anywhere you may come across it often over the holidays. Choose an intention or purpose for a particular gathering or the holiday season in general, and let the small token be a reminder of that intention every time you come across it. Maybe it is connecting more deeply with your children or other family members or friends. Maybe it is practicing mindfulness, authenticity, patience, or self-compassion. Whatever it is, having a physical reminder could help you remember what is important to you this season.
Get your exercise! Make exercise a priority, and you will likely experience more energy and less stress through the holidays. Be creative if you aren’t able to get away to the gym! Have you ever taken a hike during the tail end of fall or on a snowy day? When is the last time you have been on roller skates or danced in your living room? If nothing else, find an exercise video to workout with online.
Remember that you don’t have to take on all your problems alone. If overwhelming emotions are draining your holiday spirit, talking to a therapist can help.
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