The approach of the holidays means lots of fun and family time, but for many people who already struggle with their mental health, it can also mean an increase in the difficulties they face. The winter holidays are a stressful time, and they can aggravate problems such as anxiety or depression. There are some steps you can take to help keep your spirits up during this time of the year. Here are a few important ones to keep in mind.

Don’t Take On Too Much

One of the fastest ways to overwhelm yourself with stress during the holidays is to say yes to too many things. It’s important to know your limits and not push them, and if you’re feeling pressure to attend the party of every one of your friends with home-cooked food in hand, know that it’s okay to take a step back and say no to some things! You won’t be able to enjoy your time with loved ones if you burn through all of your energy.

Set Boundaries

At the end of the day, spending time with your family is not always simple, and sometimes it can leave you feeling worse than you did before you saw them. If there are things about the way your family interacts that upset you or worsen your mental state, it is important to set and maintain boundaries with them. Saying “Talking about this upsets me. If you’re going to continue talking about this, I’m going to leave,” or something similar, is a strong but respectful way to set a boundary that will help you to protect yourself. If your family continues to push that boundary, it’s more than okay to walk away for a minute or leave the event entirely.

Prioritize Your Health and Self Care

Looking after yourself can often fall through the cracks during busy times like this, which is all the more reason for you to make it a priority! Schedule time into your day to make sure you’re keeping up on healthy habits, like exercise and time outdoors, getting enough sleep, and making sure you eat lots of nutritious foods, so that you’ll be setting yourself up on the best foot to get through the holiday season. It’s also important to make time for some self care activities like meditation, journaling, reading a book, going for a walk, or anything else that helps you to recharge.

Find Ways to Work Your Hobbies Into the Season

During busy times we often fall out of the habit of pursuing hobbies that bring us a lot of happiness. If you find that this happens to you, giving handmade gifts might be a great way for you to keep up with your favorite hobbies, and maybe even save a little money. If you’re a crafty person who likes to knit, crochet, sew, paint, or something else creative, a small item that you’ve made yourself can be an incredibly heartfelt gift that your loved ones will cherish. If you like to bake, a batch or two of cookies wrapped in small packages with a ribbon can stretch into gifts for multiple people. There are lots of different hobbies that translate well into the holiday season, and looking into them might help you to keep time in your schedule for doing something that you love.

Volunteer

For lots of people this time of year can feel bleak and depressing, and one of the best ways to combat that is by trying to give back and help other people. Contributing your time and effort to a cause that’s close to your heart will help you to feel more connected to your community, and lessen feelings of loneliness or hopelessness. If you’re in a position where you’re able to volunteer, consider taking the time to do so this holiday season.

Look for Support

It doesn’t matter whether you live near or far to the people you care about, everyone feels lonely at one point or another. For a lot of people the holidays can exacerbate this feeling of isolation and lead to a person’s depression or other mental health issues worsening. In these times it’s important to have a support system to rely on. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the people you love if you’re feeling down. Hop on a call together if you live close together, or plan a quick and casual get-together if you’re able. Spending time with people who make you happy is what the holidays are all about, so make sure you keep it in mind at this time of year.

Seek Professional Help

Therapy is a helpful practice for many people, and it becomes especially important during stressful times. If you’re already seeing a mental health professional, keep at it! If you’ve never seen one before, it might be a good idea to start looking into it. A therapist is an invaluable part of your support system, and it can make a huge difference in how you feel all year round.

 

Difficulties with your mental health can make it so hard to enjoy this special time of year. However, with a little bit of planning and some outside help, this winter doesn’t have to be a drag for you. If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, TMS Center of the Lehigh Valley may be able to help you. Contact us today to learn about our treatment options.

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