The festive season, while brimming with joy and high spirits, can also bring about stress and anxiety for many. Balancing family obligations, social gatherings, and the pressures of the season can take a toll on your mental well-being. This year, let's prioritise mental health and make the festive season a time of true joy and rejuvenation. Here are 10 tips to help you navigate the holidays with a focus on mental well-being:
PRIORITISE SELF-CARE (SELF-LOVE)
Amidst the hustle and bustle, don't forget to take care of yourself. It is important for you to prioritise yourself. This involves scheduling dedicated time for self-care on your calendar. Schedule time to put your feet up and relax. Self-care goes beyond massages or bubble baths while listening to soft music; it’s about discovering what truly rejuvenates you.
The possibility is to be curious about what fills up your bucket, what nourishes you and what is it that interrupts the stress cycle. Be sure to schedule regular self-care activities during the festive season. If you have an appointment with a doctor, you show up for it. An appointment with yourself to rest or do something that fills you up is no different.
SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Too often we feel the pressure to create a picture-perfect holiday. This is too stressful. Let it go! Embrace imperfections, and set realistic expectations for yourself and others. Surrender the idea that everything needs to be perfect. Do what is in your flow. Be happy and relax into the spirit of the holidays.
Focus on what truly matters – spending quality time with loved ones, creating memories, and appreciating the imperfect beauty of the season. Release the need for perfection, and you'll find a newfound sense of freedom and joy.
EMBRACE THE POWER OF CONNECTION
Strengthening your social connections can be a powerful buffer against stress. Make time for meaningful interactions with family and friends.
If you’re far from home this holiday season, or your friends and family can’t be with you, with a little effort and imagination, you can bring long-distance loved ones into your heart and home. Virtual face-to-face contact via your smartphone, laptop, or mobile device can’t replace a warm hug, but they do help bridge the distance, which can help you stay connected with family and friends.
If you are alone or are feeling lonely, random acts of kindness go a long way during the festive season. Connect with people who do not have family or friends, around for the holidays. Send a card, a small gift, bake festive treats or call someone who may be spending the season alone. You could also consider visiting an elderly care facility or orphanage to share love and joy, bringing warmth to both yourself and those you encounter.
PRACTICE MINDFUL BREATHING
Practice deep, mindful breathing to centre yourself during hectic moments. A few minutes of focused breathing can make a significant difference in reducing stress. Shallow, upper chest breathing is part of the typical stress response. The stress response can be reduced by consciously breathing using the diaphragm. Abdominal breathing helps to control the nervous system and encourages the body to relax, bringing about a range of health benefits.
With each breath, allow any tension in your body to slip away. Once you are breathing slowly and with your abdomen, sit quietly and enjoy the sensation of physical relaxation.
GIVE A DIGITAL DETOX A GO
A digital detox during the holiday season is a gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones. Consider taking breaks from your devices to minimise information overload and moments of comparing and feeling inadequate on social media.
By unplugging from your screen and social media, you open the door to authentic connections, mindful presence, and a deeper appreciation for the joyous moments that define the festive season.
CREATE HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Instead of bringing feelings of comfort and joy, it’s easy to feel pressured, anxious and stressed out at this time of year. Boundaries protect, not only your time, relationships, and physical and emotional needs, but also what's truly important to you.
It's okay, and often necessary, to set boundaries to protect your mental health. Politely decline invitations or choose events that align with your well-being. Understand your limits and be comfortable saying no when needed. Prioritise your mental well-being over the fear of disappointing others.
PRACTICE GRATITUDE AND REFLECT ON ACHIEVEMENTS
Foster a positive mindset by reflecting on the things you are grateful for. A gratitude journal can be a daily reminder of the good in your life. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements over the past year. Recognise your growth and resilience, especially during challenging times.
Acknowledge any challenges you’ve had and the difficulty in overcoming them. Recognise that perceived failure is an opportunity for growth and learning. Remind yourself that the effort is more important than the outcome. Take the time to reflect on successes and positive experiences. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Celebrate small successes and learn from mistakes.
Acknowledge your progress and believe in yourself. Journal your thoughts, express gratitude for the experiences and lessons learned, and envision your aspirations for the future. These reflective practices can bring clarity and renewed motivation for the year ahead.
IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING, SEEK SUPPORT
It can be hard to reach out if the people around you seem happy when you don’t. If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't hesitate to reach out to a friend, family member, or mental health professional. The holiday season may trigger difficult emotions, thoughts, or behaviours, which can affect your mental health and use of substances (including alcohol).
Talking about how you’re feeling can help put things into perspective and may help you feel more positive while providing relief and support.
PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
The festive period can be a very difficult time to maintain a healthy diet. Celebrations can become grab-and-go experiences as you shuffle between different functions as well as work the room catching up with loved ones. Enjoy festive treats in moderation, savouring each bite mindfully. Balance indulgence with nourishing, wholesome foods.
Try your best to remain mindful of your eating habits and pay attention to what you put on your plates. If you do overeat, don’t beat yourself up. Just take a deep breath, move on and plan to make better choices moving forward!
REFLECT AND RESET
Take time at the end of the year to reflect on your mental health journey this year. Gift yourself the opportunity to reflect on your thoughts and feelings can support you with how you would like things to change. It also allows you to see what modifications you may need to make in your life. It is a real chance to do the important things that bring you joy or peace.
Set positive intentions for the upcoming year and commit to prioritising your well-being and mental health. Take time over the holidays to think about what is important to you and your mental health.
“Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace.” —Epictetus
As you embrace the festive season, prioritise your mental health and well-being. By acknowledging challenges, setting realistic expectations, and incorporating self-care practices, you can navigate the festive period with greater resilience and joy.
Use the festive season as an opportunity to celebrate, connect, and reflect. By prioritising your mental health, you can create a holiday experience that is not only joyful but also nurturing for your overall well-being.
Wishing you a joyful and mentally healthy festive season!