Managing Your Mental Health During the Holidays
Whether we like it or not, the holidays are quickly approaching. The Find Your Shine therapists understand that the holidays can often be a time of high stress, especially when you’re already battling mental health challenges, have a high-conflict family, or are low on cash. What’s more is the societal expectation that the holidays are a time of blissful cheer, which can add a layer of guilt to an already stressful time if we’re not joyfully prancing around like Dasher and Dancer. That’s why each of our therapists has come up with their best tip to help you feel healthy, happy, and empowered this holiday season.
1.) Mindy’s Tip:
Create a New Tradition: Holidays often change as we get older. Whether you are away from family, starting a family of your own, or have lost a loved one, change can be extremely difficult. Something I have found to be helpful for myself and many of my clients is to create new traditions for the holidays.
If you are away from your family this holiday season for work, college, etc., create a new tradition by spending it with friends. If you are a starting a family of your own and have young children, pass on the traditions you had as a kid or create new ones that you wish your family would have had. If you are grieving this holiday season, it can be helpful to create a new tradition that honors your loved one. This can be done by lighting a candle for your loved one, cooking your loved one’s favorite holiday dish, or sharing stories of your loved one with friends and family. By sharing stories, you might even learn something new about your loved one!
2.) Jaime’s Tip:
Be Frugal: For many, buying gifts is a big source of holiday stress. When deciding what to gift your impossible-to-shop-for relative, it can be helpful to remember the saying ‘It’s the thought that counts.” I don’t know about you, but the gifts that I appreciate most are not the ones with the highest price tag but rather the ones that clearly came from the heart.
Rather than spending a fortune on the newest Apple product or Play station gadget and worrying about how you’re going to pay December’s rent, try gifting someone a Homemade Body Scrub, a “52 Things I love about you Deck of Cards”, Hot Chocolate in a Jar, or a DIY Chalkboard Mug. Not crafty? No big deal, all of these ideas can be found online with step-by-step instructions. Take advantage of Pinterest this holiday season – your wallet (and mental health) will thank you for it!
3.) Emma’s Tip:
Be Like a Duck: We all know that one family member who seems to say the first thing that pops into their head, is overly critical, or seems to always push boundaries. With awareness of our own emotions and planning ahead, it’s a lot easier to roll with the punches and enjoy the holidays. So, the next time your aunt asks why you’re not married yet, or your in-law makes a passive-aggressive comment about your hair, first: notice and acknowledge your valid hurt. Remember, emotional sensitivity is a strength! Then: be like a duck.
When a comment like that catches you off guard, notice it, and then let it roll right off you, like water off a duck’s back. Make the conscious choice to let it go rather than internalizing it. It may also help to remind yourself of a positive thought or heartfelt memory, like the time that in-law mentioned how proud they are of you, or that same aunt teaching you a skill for the first time.
4.) Nikki’s Tip:
Set healthy boundaries: Usually the easiest said, and most difficult one to do! Creating healthy boundaries is a way of honoring yourself and is a great self-care practice. Setting boundaries is often uncomfortable at first, but it will become easier the more you practice. Boundaries and limits can be set for people, activities, finances, or anything else that causes you distress. Begin small by creating a holiday budget, set time limits on activities, create an exit plan, or practice saying, “Let me check my calendar and get back to you” before over-committing yourself to events. If you’re at a gathering and a family member criticizes you, it can be helpful to set a boundary for yourself using “I” statements. For example, “I feel hurt when you criticize me. Please stop.”