Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season
“A holiday is an opportunity to journey within.”Prabhas
The holiday season can be a beautiful and memorable time for many people. Who doesn’t enjoy all of the lovely light displays, time with friends and family, as well as those fun and meaningful traditions? And we most certainly cannot forget about all of the delicious food!
No matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, there is no question that the holiday season definitely possesses a certain kind of magic all on its own. The promise of winter wonderlands, hot cocoa, and cozy moments can be enough to fill you with warmth and joy.
But for many, the holidays can actually be a difficult time to get through.
It isn’t always the warm and fuzzy feeling a lot of people experience. In fact, sometimes it’s downright stressful and lonely.
Some people may have lost their job this year. Or some are just barely getting by and can’t afford to buy any gifts. This alone can cause anxiety, sadness, and feelings of worthlessness.
Others may have lost someone they love, and this is the first Christmas without them (I’m in this boat myself). For some, it’s been years since they lost a particular someone. And yet, they still struggle to get through the holidays without them.
Or maybe you’re like me, and sometimes your mental health gets in the way of your happiness this time of year. It robs you of the excitement and child-like wonder that often come along with the holidays.
And unfortunately, just like last year, we are still haunted by the ongoing pandemic. We were all hoping that this year would be different. And while this year will likely be more normal than last year, COVID is still lurking around and causing havoc in our lives.
It goes without saying – holiday stress is no joke, and it is indeed very real.
In fact, a study by the American Psychological Association (APA) revealed that 38% of people reported increased stress levels during the holidays. The study also found that the most common stressors of the holiday season are time, money, and the general hype of the season itself.
It’s a real struggle for some to balance everything that the holidays throw at them. Between all of the holiday parties, school and religious programs, and family gatherings, it’s no wonder our mental health can take a back seat this time of year.
The guilt of not being able to juggle everything at once can be brutal and downright discouraging. It’s no wonder holiday stress can have its own category!
The holidays can come at you hard and knock you off your feet when you least suspect it. Especially if you don’t have the proper support system that you need to get through the season.
But no matter what your holiday plans look like this year – please remember to take care of you.
There will be times where you find yourself being pulled in many different directions. Maybe you have an office party or family dinner to go to, shopping that needs to be done, and cooking or baking to take care of.
Put all of this on top of your already crammed schedule, and you can find yourself on a downward spiral before you know it.
Maybe you’re estranged from certain family members or friends. And you can’t imagine subjecting yourself to a toxic environment for another holiday season. Or maybe you aren’t being invited to any holiday parties and you find yourself completely alone.
If you find yourself struggling this holiday season, know that it’s perfectly okay to decline that invitation or create that much needed boundary. It’s okay to put yourself first.
But for many, the holidays can cause people to feel like they have no choice in the matter and feel obligated to make an appearance at every gathering. You may feel like you have to subject yourself to toxicity, just because it’s family or maybe something work related. But that simply isn’t true.
Whatever your case may be – it’s important to recognize when you are struggling so you can take steps to take care of yourself.
Below are some favorite ways to help alleviate my own stress during the holiday season. 🎄🕎❄️
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the opportunity to do nothing!
And by doing “nothing”, I am mostly referring to rest and relaxation. Even in the chaos, we need to prioritize making time for ourselves and allowing ourselves to just be.
Whenever you have some downtime, consider taking a nap or soaking in a nice bubble bath.
Do something like this instead of just adding more responsibility to yourself. Even a lazy day on the couch can do wonders for your mental health and provide you the opportunity to clear your head or sit with your emotions.
We all need to step away and refresh ourselves every now and then, and the holidays are no exception. Taking a lazy day (or several) during the holiday season is an absolute must for me to keep my sanity.
It’s Okay to Say “No” If Needed
While this can be said at any time of the year, it truly will be okay if you need to say “no” to something.
We all already have enough going on in our lives, and with the busyness of the holidays, it can be easy to get overwhelmed quickly. If you are finding yourself stretched too thin, and another holiday party invite comes along, say “no” if you need to.
If whatever you’re committing to is going to completely stress you out or cause you to break down – it simply isn’t worth it. It isn’t worth it to you or to the people around you. We can’t expect to be our best selves to those we love or filled with holiday spirit if we are struggling on the inside.
Politely decline the invitation and let the host know that even though you’d love to make an appearance, you simply can’t make it. No explanation is necessary.
Don’t Forget Your Exercise Routine
It can be tempting to forgo some of your own personal priorities to help balance out everything else the holidays throw at us. For me, that’s my physical fitness, which is something I always try to prioritize.
And while I certainly don’t stick to my regular workout schedule during the holidays, I still try to find some time for light exercise instead of completely letting it go.
I may go for a walk a few times a week to get some fresh air. Or I may practice some yoga with some relaxing music and no lights on (except for the Christmas Tree).
Both exercise and yoga have helped me immensely throughout my mental health journey. And when looking back at past holiday seasons, I can honestly say I always felt less stressed whenever I kept up some sort of exercise routine. Even if it was just a day or two here and there.
I know not everyone loves to workout. But if you already practice some sort of physical fitness routine outside of the holidays, commit to keeping it up this holiday season, even if it’s scaled back.
I promise it will be worth it and you will come out feeling better about yourself in the end!
Find What You Love About the Holidays & Do That
If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or lonely this time of year, it can be difficult to even enjoy it. But perhaps there are some aspects about the holidays that do bring you comfort.
If so, commit to whatever that is this holiday season and do that. Even if you find yourself doing it completely alone.
For me, it’s simply popping a bag of popcorn and enjoying one of my favorite holiday movies (The Santa Clause, Home Alone, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are my personal favs). This is something that I can do with family or friends. And it’s even something that I can do all by myself.
Maybe you have a favorite holiday dish or treat that you like to indulge in, but you are trying to eat healthier.
We all deserve to treat ourselves every once in a while. And after the year (or two) we’ve all had, I say go for it! Eat that savory treat or delicious dessert you’ve been craving all year! Everything in moderation, right?
Or perhaps you enjoy listening to holiday music or engaging in a particular tradition that gets you into the holiday spirit. The point is to find what you personally love about the holidays, even if it’s simple. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it should be something that truly brings you joy.
These tips above are by no means an exhaustive list of what you can do to decrease your holiday stress.
Rather, these are just some of the things that have personally helped me get through some challenging holiday seasons. And I’m hopeful they can help you too!
I know how crushing it can be to see others around you partake in holiday festivities and be filled with excitement and wonder. All the while you are barely holding it together and making it through.
It can be hard to put yourself first, especially if you’re a notorious people-pleaser like myself.
However, if you follow some of the tips above, you are likely to find the holidays a little brighter and more tolerable for yourself.
Remember – you are worthy, and you deserve a joyous and peaceful holiday season.