For many, the holiday season brings cheer and excitement; however, it’s not uncommon for it to also be a difficult time. The holidays can be particularly hard for those struggling with mental health. Your routine may be disrupted, some of the coping mechanisms or support networks you’ve built at school or in your own home may not be available, you may not have strong family ties to return to, and there may be additional financial stress due to holiday shopping. It’s okay if you’re feeling down, upset, or confused this holiday season. We’re here for you – check out the five tips below to de-stress during the holidays in a way that’s healthy for you, no matter your circumstance:
- Prioritize and make time for yourself: There’s no shame in looking out for #1 (that’s you!). If your routine is what keeps you going at school, try not to lose sight of that at home. Sleep, eat, exercise, socialize, rest and relax as normally as you can – and don’t be afraid to let your family know that it’s what you need. If you need time for yourself, put on your comfiest clothes, shut your door, load up Netflix, and do some self-care. If you are alone for the holidays, this can be a good time to focus on you: pick up that hobby you have been waiting to try, and catch up on rest.
- Get out of the house (and get some sunshine!): In addition to spending some time by yourself, having a change of scenery can be a huge help. Go to a movie, take a walk or run, go for a drive, or take a book to a local coffee shop. Removing yourself from your environment allows you to reflect and refresh. Most importantly, try and get outside! With the daylight hours getting shorter, it’s easy to spend the majority of your day inside. Try to schedule time outdoors and make it part of your holiday routine – the winter blues are real, but there are ways to combat them.
- Plan in advance: Check in with yourself prior to your time spent at home and around family. How much time do you need for yourself? Are there certain days or events that may be more high-stress than others? Look ahead and think through what you can do to get through those high-stress times. Consider meditating those mornings or giving yourself a reward to look forward to at the end of the day.
- Be patient with yourself: With all of the expectations and hustle of the holidays, it can be a lot to take on and think about. Be gentle and patient with yourself when it comes to gifts, family, and friends. There is so much variability within each day of the holiday season. Release expectations and do the best with what you have each day. Ask for help when you need it and be realistic about what you can and want to get done in a day. Visit our website for additional resources on reaching out for help!
- Keep in touch with whoever best supports you: The holiday season means returning to your support system, for some but it means leaving your support system for others. If you are leaving your friends, found-family, and peers, stay in touch! Just because you’re taking a break from classes doesn’t mean you need to take a break from your friends. Send a text message, play online games, or video call those important people. It’s possible they need a helping hand to get through the holidays too. If you are returning to your support system, be mindful of your time with them and express gratitude for it. It is important to nurture your time and space with whoever best supports you!
The holidays are not “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to emotions. Whether you feel joyous, sad, nervous, excited, or all of the above, your experiences and feelings are valid. Take each day one at a time, make an extra effort for self-care, and utilize the tips above to cope with stress this holiday season. Learn more our tips to de-stress during the holidays here.
These tips to de-stress during the holidays were originally shared on the Active Minds blog by Amanda Uhme; what would you add?