How to Stay (Mentally) Healthy During the Holidays



We know that holidays are supposed to be a time of relaxation. A time to get together with your loved ones. For many of us, with the holidays comes a pile of feelings- we are happy and excited, but we can also be stressed out, full of anxiety, or even depressed as we get closer and closer.


Below are a few items of advice to help you achieve a healthier holiday season- remember, your mental health is just as important as fending off the flu, or preventing yourself from falling on the ice during our beautiful, cold winter.


Set a Timeline

Set a list of things you need to complete before/for the holidays and set an attainable timeline to get the items completed. Make sure you account for the time it will take you to find gifts and wrap them. Make sure to account for buying groceries, prepping, and preparing the meal. Whatever it is that you need to complete, give yourself plenty of time to complete it. By preparing a list and sticking to a timeline, you will be able to cross items off as you get closer and you will have less things to do at the last minute.


Set a Budget

Holidays are not about extravagant gifts, or fancy dishes (with 100 ingredients but it still tastes like a regular apple pie). Please spend what you can afford. If it is tradition that you always buy, prep and cook the turkey, but this year you can only afford the bread rolls, speak to your other dinner guests and mention switching things up. If you know someone really wants a bike, give them a gift card to that store for what you can afford and mention that it goes toward their bike fund. Please spend what you can afford this holiday season, because trust me, no one will notice or care how much money you put towards a gift. Some affordable, yet meaningful gifts could include; homemade gifts, heartfelt cards, or personalized coupons (etc. to help around the house).


Avoid Triggers of Anxiety

If you get triggered with anxiety around large crowds, reserve your shopping for Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, instead of weekends. If you need to quickly get a last minute gift on your lunch break, but the lineup is half an hour long, see if you can reserve it for when you are finished work. Try online shopping (and if it doesn't come in on time, print a picture of it and put it in a card).


Be With Who You Want To Be With

This one might be easier said than done. A lot of people feel obligated to spend time with all their family members- including their passive aggressive relative, or the relative that drinks too much. Why be around the people that make you uncomfortable? Why be around the people who get a rise out of making you feel small? Maybe you would rather be with a small group of friends than your family. Maybe you would rather be selective with the family you spend time with. In this case, you can always have a holiday get-together other days of the week. Don't let one day be the day you feel like you have to see everyone- even the ones you don't want to see. Do your own thing, spend time with your own set of loved ones.


Slow Down

When I say slow down, I mean slow right down. Slow down with everything. Take an extra minute just to see your surroundings. Chew your delicious meal a little longer, savouring the flavours. Don't rush out the door right at 12 just to get somewhere right at 12:30. Be present in the moment- we are always living a fast-paced life, why rush through the holidays as well?


Enjoy the Dessert

Don't let yourself feel guilty for having that slice (or two) of cake. You deserve to gift yourself something as well, and if that means you want to try a little bit of everything on the dessert table, do it!


Pace Yourself

Going back to what I said on the last point of enjoying the dessert, pace yourself as well. Eat slowly, enjoy the conversation around the dinner table, and stop eating before you are too full. Don't ruin the end to your get-together by feeling bloated and tired by overeating. Eat until you are comfortable. Pace yourself with alcohol. Make sure you have a safe ride home, and ask yourself if one more glass of wine is really worth it.


Get Outside

We tend to like to complain about the weather this time of year- "It's so cold outside", "Look at all the snow coming down", "I am not going outside in this weather". My question is why? Remember when you were younger and you looked forward to the snow? What happened since then? I challenge you to go outside just once this winter. Go ice skating, make a snowman, go tobogganing, play with your kids, have a snowball fight with your spouse, or just step outside and see how beautiful everything looks with the crisp, sparkly snow. Weather you embrace your inner child for an hour or just admire the weather for 5 minutes, getting fresh air can help clear your mind and calm your soul.


Drink Herbal Teas

Herbal teas like Lavender, Valerian, and Chamomile can help calm you down and let your mind rest for a better nights sleep, whereas Matcha tea can give you a pick-me-up when you feel run down without the crash that coffee gives you. Teas like Holy Basil and Ashwagandha are adaptogen's, which help you adapt to your surroundings and manage the stress levels in your body.


Don't Get Hung Up on Traditions

Traditions can be fun and unique, but they can also be stressful. Traditions like finding the biggest tree in the batch (when trees can be upwards of $40 based on size), or every year your family partakes in a play (when you have major stage fright). Don't be afraid of speaking up about how you feel- chances are, someone is bound to feel the same way. Sometimes traditions are made to be broken, enhanced, or tweaked.


Don't Get Hung Up on The Holidays

Similar to the one above, don't get hung up on the holidays. Remember that the holidays are just another day(s) and media makes us feel like it needs to be special and perfect based on presents, food, and being with all of your family. Make your holidays special in your own way on your own terms, your body and mind will thank you.


Please enjoy your Holiday season- whatever that may mean to you. A new year is fast approaching, why not make the best out of the end of a chapter.


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