The holidays are supposed to be joyous, but we all know that expectations and stress also increase during this time of year. If you find yourself struggling this holiday season, consider these suggestions for ways to manage your mental wellness:
- Find balance in your schedule. Schedule downtime between holidays events just like you schedule the events themselves. Downtime isn’t always just resting. It may be engaging in a favorite hobby or going for a walk.
- Don’t neglect your health. Getting good sleep and nutrition will help you to have greater capacity to handle holiday stress. Exercise is a great way to deal with holiday stress and anxiety. Make sure to intentionally schedule stress management activities throughout your whole week, not only after the big event.
- Reach out to others if you are feeling lonely. Many community, social, and religious groups have activities and gatherings scheduled at this time of year and want to welcome you. Make a list of those you feel comfortable connecting with and reach out. Volunteering your time or doing kind things for others can lift your mood and help you make new connections.
- Traditions aren’t mandatory. Consider if you want to make changes or keep family traditions. Holiday traditions can be hard after the loss of someone we love. Sometimes doing traditions can be a way of honoring that loved one. Others want to start anew. Evaluate what is best for you and your family in regards to things that may have become more obligation than joy.
- Consider your priorities and values. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that are less important to you. Stick to a budget to manage stress around finances. Don’t try to buy happiness with gifts. Consider offering quality time with someone, starting a gift exchange, or sharing homemade gifts.
- Set boundaries early. Communicate with your support system about your wishes and expectations for the holidays. Not everyone will choose to celebrate the holidays the same way and that’s okay. Some prefer to spend time alone and others want to stay close to others.
- Acknowledge a year of changes. If you’ve experienced a recent loss, let others know if you prefer talking about your loved one. They may be looking for permission on whether to mention your loved one’s name. You may want to address your loss with a tradition shared by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: “Light two candles, and then blow one out. Explain that the extinguished candle represents those we’ve lost, while the one that continues to burn represents those of us who go on despite our loss and pain. Simply leave the one candle burning (you can put it off to one side) for the duration of the holiday meal or event. The glowing flame acts as a quiet reminder of those who are missing.”
There is no one way to manage the holiday season! Give yourself grace around deciding what makes the most sense for you and your family.
If feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, or struggling to function with everyday tasks, reach out to seek professional help. Treatment with a medical or mental health professional may offer relief and healing. If you are interested in outpatient therapy or medication management through Florence Crittenton, call us at (785)233-0513 to discuss if we may be a good fit for you.