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Maintaining Your Mental Health During the Holidays

The holiday season is full of bright lights, gift exchanges, and cookie decorating. However, all of it can take a toll on your mental health. While we tend to focus on keeping our bodies healthy this time of the year, we should also be focusing on the health of our minds. Here are a few ways we can maintain our mental health over the coming weeks.


Set Realistic Expectations

For many events in our lives, we tend to have big ideas and high expectations for what the event will be like. Unfortunately, the actual event may let us down, and that’s often the case during the holidays. It’s important to set realistic expectations for the holidays. For example, if you’re hosting a dinner, be realistic about what you can handle and what you can’t. Going overboard and trying to make everything perfect only lends to anxiety and depression.


Go Outside

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is in full swing for many people. Spending time outdoors and soaking up the sun can really help manage symptoms. If sunshine isn’t particularly abundant where you are, spending time near a fluorescent light mimics sunlight and can have the same positive impact on SAD that natural sunlight has.


Learn to Say ‘No’

Sometimes it’s hard to say no to someone or something. Parties, gatherings, and seasonal obligations can become overwhelming and even expensive. Select a manageable number of events you want to attend and politely decline the others. You have limits and that’s OK!


Acknowledge Your Feelings

This time of the year not only brings excitement but also sadness, loneliness, and even anger. Acknowledging those feelings can make a difference. For example, the holidays often bring around people that can be toxic to our mental health. Acknowledge how these people make you feel and build a strategy for how you’ll deal with them in a healthy manner.


See Your Therapist

If you currently see a mental health professional for treatment, it’s important that you continue to go during the holidays. Taking time for your own health is more important than making a batch of cookies or running out to get a last-minute gift.


Set a Holiday Budget

The holidays can get expensive and that only lends to anxiety and depression. Set a budget for what you can spend on gifts, decorations, food, and travel if necessary. Knowing your limits can be financially freeing! If your budget isn’t as large as you’d like it to be, get creative. Shop the sales, buy off-brand or second-hand, and learn to DIY. You’ll be surprised how resourceful you can be!

Ultimately, the holidays are what you make of them. They aren’t perfect and it’s OK to be let-down by them. Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally however, can make a world of difference!

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If you are in crisis, call 988 to talk with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, text HOME to 741741 to connect to a free crisis counselor, or go to your nearest emergency room.