11 Tips To Protect Your Mental Health During The Holidays

11 Tips To Protect Your Mental Health During The Holidays

Published on: Dec 29, 2022

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Medically Reviewed and Authored by:
Pari Saharkhiz, Doctor of Medicine, Canada, Ontario

Table of contents

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joyous, blissful relaxation. But the prospect of gift selection and shopping, spending time with your family, balancing work and family time, and traveling can cause more stress than joy. It is perfectly normal to feel this way, and you should know that you're not alone. 

According to a study by The American Psychology Association, 38% of people battled increased stress during the holidays. People in lower-income households tend to face greater stress levels during the holidays. Contrary to popular belief, a mere 8% feel happier. 

In this blog, we'll go over simple ways that you can care for your mental health during the holidays. 

  1. Accept and acknowledge your emotions: It's easier to shrug off your emotions to maintain the holiday spirit instead of acknowledging your true feelings. But a better way to deal with your emotions would be to ask yourself, How am I really feeling? And why am I feeling this way?  Once you know the answer to these questions, you can figure out the triggers that cause your mental health to suffer. Your triggers could be anything from financial strains to a lack of time for yourself. Remember: your feelings are valid. Accept your emotions because there's nothing wrong with them. Be kind to yourself for feeling them. You can talk to someone you love and trust about these emotions to help in easing the burden. 
  2. Get organized: If you’re anxious over everything you need to do during the holidays, you should try to prioritize your most important tasks through to-do lists and journals. Set a budget before you go holiday shopping to limit spending and buying options. Be realistic about how much ground you can cover in one day to avoid additional stress. 
  3. Make time for yourself: One of the biggest causes of stress during the holidays is having too much to do in too little time. You must take at least half an hour out of every day just for yourself. You can take a long walk, a relaxing bath, read a book, hang out with your friends, or do anything else you love. During this time, you should not be thinking about your holiday tasks. If you're up for it, you can even indulge in holiday activities like baking, decorating, or anything else that brings you joy during the holidays. This is your way to find joy in the festive season. 
  4. It’s okay to say no: Setting boundaries during the holidays is crucial for maintaining good mental health. You may find it hard to say no to something you don't want to do, buy an out-of-budget gift, or turn down things you don't have the energy for. Remember that saying no isn't rude. If it protects your best interests and helps you gain mental peace, it's the best option. When saying no to someone, be polite and explain why you're declining their offer. Tell them how much they mean to you and see if you can reschedule after the holidays.  
  5. Maintain healthy habits: The holidays are considered to be the right time for overindulgence. Everything goes, and everything is okay. It's perfectly healthy to have a hearty Christmas meal, Christmas goodies, or a few drinks to celebrate the occasion. Consistent overindulgence is not healthy. Overindulgence can help you feel the holiday spirit and relieve mental health issues for a split second, but it's not healthy. It's better to deal with these issues than to rely on alcohol, food, or any substances. 
  6. Practice gratitude: Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to list things you're grateful for. A gratitude list doesn't have to solely be major events like a great gift or a perfect day. It can be something as simple as a good meal or an appreciation for nature. A gratitude list helps you gain perspective, greater optimism, and kindness for strangers and loved ones.  
  7. Follow your daily schedule:  A schedule change can cause extra stress during the holidays. You might not be able to get enough sleep, get off work on time, or spend time with your friends. Try to stick to your standard schedule to feel a sense of normalcy and control. 
  8. Limit social media time: Excessive social media time can be a problem all year round but worsen during the holiday season. It can lead to undue comparisons, and expectations and contribute to declining mental health. Remember that everything on social media isn't always as it seems. Try to be content with what you have. 
  9. Manage expectations: The holidays are promoted as a time when nothing but good things happen. It's supposed to be a peaceful time where everyone is merry and everything is right in the world. When you go into the holidays with high expectations, you're more likely to have a sadder holiday period due to the disappointments. Mentally prepare yourself for imperfections and delays. Embrace them as a part of the holiday spirit. 
  10. Remember your wins: When facing unexpected delays and problems, remember everything you've accomplished, the festive season and beyond. It's a great way to instill self-kindness and self-confidence. 
  11. Limit spending: According to a study, lower to middle-income households tend to deal with more holiday stress. It is hard to maintain essential expenses while putting on a memorable holiday. If financial strains are causing you stress, set a gift-shopping budget and limit self-care gifts. Take note of unused gifts from the previous holiday season and consider regifting those. Budget your spending by considering the main areas of specific holiday expenses, not just gifting. Remember that gifts are a show of how much you care for someone. They don't need to be expensive to show your love. 

Wrapping Up

We hope this blog has helped you find simple ways to protect your mental health this festive season. If you're struggling with mental health issues (holiday season) and beyond, don't be afraid to reach out to your loved ones or a mental health professional. There's nothing wrong with seeking help when you need it. 

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