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Being healthy takes on many angles, not just eating right. During the holidays, keeping your emotional health in check is so important due to the extra stress we all encounter. Whether it’s dealing with extended family, financial struggles amplified by the ‘season of giving’, or being alone while everyone else is seemingly surrounded by family. We all could use some tips and suggestions on how to relieve stress and maintain mental health year around, but especially so during the holidays.
Here are some ideas to get you started!
Keep a gratitude journal
If you Google “Starting a gratitude journal” you will find an amazing amount of information on gratitude journals, including a lot of contradictory information. Find what works for you and keep it simple.
If you don’t want it to feel like a chore, and focus in detail on one thing that you are grateful for rather than listing a lot of things in just one sentence. Doing this might not feel so overwhelming in terms of trying to come up with multiple things to be grateful for, but also let you feel the happiness from reliving one good things.
In addition, some studies have shown that writing once or twice a week might be more beneficial than daily writing. It is less like a chore and more of intentional focus on what brought enjoyment. Looking at these moments as gifts can make them more powerful.
Set up plans with people you genuinely like
Having something to look forward to can make you happier. Knowing you’re spending times with friends or family, the specific people whose company you enjoy, is what’s important. Keep people who increase your happiness closest to you, form a strong support system.
Try something new
Whether it be a craft, a recipe, a sport, a hobby, a new form of exercise. Trying new things helps build confidence and gets you out of your regular routine. It helps you grow and expand your horizons as well as providing a great opportunity to work past the fear of trying something new and unknown!
Another benefit of trying something different is that you will meet new people and potentially make a new friend or two, expanding our support system.
If you really don’t want to interact with more people because you are surrounded by people all day, pick up a coloring book, like Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs and give yourself time to just zone out.
Pick up and old hobby
On the other hand, if you don’t have the time or energy to try something new right now, pick up an old hobby or interest and get re-involved in what brings you personal joy.
- Do you like to read? Go buy a new book. You can browse Bestsellers on Amazon for a new author.
- Do you like to scrapbook? Go to your local craft store and see what new supplies are available. Find a local crop.
- Do you like to jog? There are so many meet ups for any age and level of runners. Heck, any kind of exercise, whether hiking, walking, cycling, etc.
- Do you like to bake? Dust off an old cookbook or pick up a new Cookbook and start baking. If you don’t want the goodies at your house, wrap them up and gift them to your neighbors!
- Hang out with a friend that makes you laugh
- Watch a comedy or
- Go to a comedy show.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins and can make you feel better, even temporarily. Laughing relaxes the body and provides an immunity boost. Sometimes laughter can put things into perspective and help us regain our bearings in tough situations.
Get off Social Media
Sometimes social media is more of a detriment to our health, especially during the holidays. Take a break. A lot of time we all get too caught up in what other people are doing, where they are going, and using that information to compare their lives to our own.
Listen to Music
Find music that brings back good memories. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you for dusting off Backstreet Boys or N’Sync. Listen to whatever you want and who cares what people think. Put in earbuds and dance around.
If you’re frustrated write it down
Recently one of my kids was having a really frustrating time with a coach and was in tears. He wrote a letter outlining everything that was making him angry. And then he ripped it up into tiny pieces and threw it away. Sometimes just getting your feelings out on paper can be cathartic.
Get enough Sleep
Sleep affects your quality of life and making sure to get enough sleep each night is paramount. I could write an entire post about the benefits of sleep, but I won’t. Instead, realize that there have been many studies that link lack of sleep to various health problems including heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Lack of sleep can affect weight gain as well.
Incorporating healthy fats and foods low in sugar can improve our energy and mood. It can also help us sleep better which is something most people need.
Volunteering is about giving back and so the benefit of donating some of your precious time can be considered a two way street in helping. You help your community but you also benefit. It keeps you linked to your community and fights off loneliness, especially during the holiday season. You build bonds and create new relationships. Volunteering also improves your self esteem and can teach you new skills.
Learn to say no
We often stretch ourselves thin trying to do too much and that brings on added stress. Make sure you’ve carved out alone time – time to focus on your personal hobbies and pleasures.
Get Professional Help
If you are feeling depressed or anxious, get professional help. There is still a lot of perceived stigma attached to seeking out help. Nobody is too complex for help either and asking for help is actually a strength, not a weakness.
At the end of the day, is is paramount that we don’t short change our mental well being and that we ask for help when we need it. Whether we call friends, family, or a professional, finding someone to talk to is important. Taking time alone to do what you want is equally important. It’s okay to say no, even during the ‘season of giving.’