Believe it or not, 2020 is soon coming to a close. In a year that has been particularly stressful and taxing for so many, here we are in the midst of a global pandemic holiday season. Whether you find yourself highly anticipating or completely dreading this time of year, it is vital that we do not neglect our mental health. As the CDC defines, mental health is ‘our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.’ Here are five simple guidelines to help maintain your mental health during this holiday season:
1. IT’S OK TO SAY NO
Annual holiday expectations tend to promote overcommitment. It’s okay to make a different choice for yourself. On top of your typical everyday demands, you may find yourself balancing end of year deadlines, holiday zoom parties, financial strain, defining boundaries around family distanced gatherings, etc. Remember that it is okay to say no to invites, change expectations, and prioritize rest to support your mental health.
2. NOURISH YOUR MIND AND BODY
It’s possible to celebrate while also taking care of yourself. The holidays can alter your routine, or make it busier than usual. Consider scheduling what works best for your personal wellness before booking up your calendar. Building flexibility in your schedule can also support healthy habits. Can’t make it to the gym? Put on your coat and take a walk. Take a moment to cozy up next to the fire and read a book. Play music. Do yoga. Work on a puzzle. Find things that boost all around goodness.
3. AVOID THE CONSUMERISM TRAP
There are so many ways to show thoughtfulness that don’t necessarily involve lavish gifts. It can be easy to get lost in the seasonal shopping pressure and buy, buy, buy! Sometimes we may still choose to purchase meaningful gifts for those we love. We can also remember that a simple act of kindness, donation, homemade gift, baked goods, or even quality time together can be meaningful as well.
4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGY
The holidays look different this year and many of us are missing in-person gatherings with loved ones. When possible, we can take advantage of technology and schedule a virtual hangout instead. Even time through a screen can be quality time.
5. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
As this unprecedented year comes to a close, reflecting on the things that one is grateful for can help improve mental health. Havard Medical School reports that ‘…gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.’ There are so many simple ways to practice gratitude: start a gratitude journal, write a thank you card, or practice mindfulness. In a year that has stirred up a lot of challenging emotions, it is important to recognize and savor the simple things.
If you or someone you love is in need of mental health treatment, The Mental Health Collective, located in Orange County, California, is here to help.
Written by: A. Shroeder