Mentally Healthy Holidays

One of the most hectic times of the year is approaching, and no matter how excited we are to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones, December can often bring its share of added stressors. On top of our long list of to-dos – shopping, cooking, and entertaining – we’re also expected to stay on top of our normal lives and daily responsibilities. In other words, even though festivities make for loads of fun, they also make it easy for us to forget about taking care of ourselves and overdoing it. 1 

For ways to maintain your sanity and balance this year, read our ten helpful tips.

1. Know Your Boundaries

Are there certain family members that stress you out? Do you take on too much during the holidays? Pay attention to what’s causing strain, and alter the situation. While you can’t change a relative’s behavior, you can create boundaries that keep you from internalizing their negativity. Don’t fret about pleasing everyone. Take care of yourself, and remember it’s OK to say no. 1

2. Plan Ahead

Set aside certain days for cooking and shopping. Plan your menu and create a shopping list. Do your best to avoid last-minute errands or travel, and make sure to carve out some YOU time as well. 2

3. Stay Positive

Despite all the stressors, there’s so much to enjoy about the holidays! Take time to appreciate the little things – the twinkling decorations on your street, bonus time with important people in your life, or how good it feels to surprise someone with a gift they love. 2

4. Manage Your Expectations

Every year won’t be the same and things change, so embrace it. Don’t strive for perfection and learn to adjust with a smile on your face. Find your flow! 1

5. Stick to a Budget

Before you set off on a gift and food shopping frenzy, figure out how much money you can spend this year. There are many ways to still give plenty of gifts without breaking the bank. Homemade gifts are always thoughtful, or even proposing a family gift exchange. 3

6. Don’t Neglect your Health

Staying on top of your fitness and nutrition is a must, especially with so much temptation for indulgence. Try not to eat too many sweets or drink too many cocktails, get lots of rest, and if you have a splurge day, consider counteracting it with a day of cleansing. 2

7. Reach Out

If the holidays are looking a little quiet this year, make sure not to isolate. Look for support in your community, or schedule gatherings with the people you love and need most. 2

8. Perform Random Acts of Kindness

Give the unexpected. Let someone have your parking spot on a crowded shopping day. Be generous to the homeless woman in front of the grocery store. Do something good just because you can. The act of giving will make you feel even better. 3

9. Breathe

Take time out of your day to focus on reducing stress levels and clearing your mind. Stay present and focus on your breath – inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Do what you can to find inner peace – meditate, practice yoga, read a book, or take a walk in nature. 4

10. Have Gratitude

So much of the time, we forget to notice all that we have to be thankful for. Keep a gratitude journal, and write down things you’re grateful for this holiday season. 3

“No matter how chaotic life is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.”  – Sheryl Crow