In popular culture, the holidays are portrayed as a time of fun and goodwill, when loved ones get together to celebrate. A lot of people, however, have recently started talking frankly about the less merry aspects of this time of year.
It's no secret that these are trying times for anyone dealing with mental illness or with loved ones who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Perhaps we're looking forward to the impending celebrations in the hopes of feeling closer to and more understood by others in our immediate vicinity. Or maybe we fantasize of enjoyable family dinners but find it difficult to integrate. It's possible that we'll make plans to hang out with pals, only to feel isolated and overwhelmed by bouts of sadness.
However, it is possible to cope with these "holiday blues." We can get through the season with a little help from these ideas for self-care activities.
Be Aware Of Your Capacity and Work Within It
There is always a laundry list of things to do, places to go, and people to see throughout the holiday season. These lists can be exciting and invigorating at times, but they can also be mentally and physically tiring. You must learn to set limits and say "enough" or "no." It's better to have a few short, productive adventures than to overcommit and burn oneself out. Limiting yourself to only one or two stores for an afternoon outing instead of a full-day trip is one way to manage the time you spend on Christmas errands. It's important to stop and rest every once in a while. Going with a friend or two can be a great morale booster and add an extra layer of enjoyment to your adventure.
Limiting your holiday social activities is another option. Spend your precious resources on those who will return the favor. There's no rule that says you have to go to every party you're invited to. It might be exhausting to spend time with certain people. Protect yourself by denying their invitation if necessary. A quick phone call to say "sorry" and "good holidays" offers minimal involvement and an easy way out.
Establish Realistic Goals
There is no way to not have lofty expectations for the holiday season, what with constant reminders that this is a time of goodwill, celebration, and plenty. But it's just as crucial to have an internal checkup on how well we're doing at keeping our hopes and expectations in check.
In order to avoid being let down, it's important to keep your expectations of other people and of life in general realistic. Having no expectations at all is also unreasonable because it sends the message that you don't care what other people think about you. In order to foresee how people will treat you in the future, it is helpful to take an open and honest look at how they have treated you in the past.
Avoiding Potential Triggers
A lot of people find the holidays to be a time of heartache because of the memories they bring up. Substitute more emotionally satisfying activities or encounters for the ones that tend to set you off. Avoid watching Christmas films that bring up painful memories or old friends who have passed away.
Think carefully before attending a holiday gathering when a difficult cousin or acquaintance will be there. Don't interact with them further if you do. If you're unable to stay for the entirety of the event, simply stop by for a quick registration.
Look for Ways to Help Others
There is no better time to give to others than the holiday season.
Supporting service troops stationed in risky or far-flung locales is a great way to give back this holiday season. Also, think about volunteering at a food bank in your area. Making Care Kits to distribute to homeless people is another way you may help your community.
Furnish To Relax In
When the holiday season rolls around, it's not uncommon to be engulfed by a veritable forest of garlands. However, you don't have to hold this kind of party in your own home. You don't have to stick to the tried-and-true formula of using red and green for Christmas if you don't (unless they bring you joy, of course). Choose hues that make you feel at ease, joyful, safe, light, and peaceful.
Think about bringing out your favorite blanket or snuggling up with your favorite pillow. Pick a hue that helps you feel at ease. Do you have a favorite scent that takes you back to a certain memory? A new candle or essential oil could help transform your home into the relaxing haven you deserve.
Try to be more generous with yourself. The holidays are a great time to show gratitude to the people in your life, but it's also important to take some time to honor yourself. This Christmas season, while you shop and give gifts, consider getting or making something for your future self that will help improve your mental health or inspire you to pick up a new and beneficial pastime.
You might want to send yourself a greeting card or two. Come up with a positive phrase or jot down a note that will bring to mind a time or strength that will serve as a reminder. Take some time now to write a note to your future self and mail it to yourself. Make time in your schedule to take care of your most precious asset: you!
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season. You, your loved ones, and your friends all benefit from your taking care of yourself, so set aside or schedule some time for this.