A survey that was recently conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Health found that 60% of Americans report a dip in their mental health during the holiday season. That is a huge number, but you don’t have to be one of them. Here are some tried and tested things that you can do to feel better during the holidays.
Set and enforce boundaries
Lots of people find it hard to say no, and therein lies one of causes of stress, anxiety and even burnout during the holidays. With so much to do from buying gifts for family and friends to attending numerous social gatherings, it can all get to you and take a toll not just on your physical health but your mental health as well.
One way to enjoy the holidays is therefore to set boundaries and guard them jealously. For example, don’t feel compelled to accept every invitation that is made to you. Only accept those that are in line with what you value, and only if they don’t make an excessive demand upon your time.
As you set boundaries, you will have more time to relax or do what you enjoy doing during the holidays, such as sitting down to chat with your favorite family members that you haven’t seen all year.
Get some shut-eye
Adequate sleep is important because it resets your emotional balance system and allows the body and mind to recharge. Seven to nine hours is the recommended duration of sleep needed for optimum functioning, and there is no reason why you should be sleep-deprived during the holidays, of all times of the year.
When you are amply rested, stress levels go down, your immune system is boosted, and your energy levels are higher. Additionally, your mood improves and you are less likely to be irritable. Do you now see how sleep is crucial to feeling better during the holidays?
This recommendation may seem odd, especially during holidays when there are so many people around you, but it is important. Holidays are a time to spread the cheer, but how will you spread or share what you don’t have?
Take time off to do you; whether it entails going for a walk in the woods, hitting the gym, watching your favorite uplifting movies, or whatever. This me-time is crucial because it nourishes your soul and puts you in a good place to spread the cheer to all around you.
You shouldn’t therefore see me-time as an act of selfishness. Rather, it is you refilling your cup so that you can be in position to refill the cups of those around you.
Another way to have a better time during the holidays is by practicing mindfulness in all you do. This is being in the moment and focusing purely on what is before you.
For example, if you are digging into Thanksgiving dinner, eat slowly and let all your senses focus on the experience of eating. What are the colors of each food item? What flavors can you detect? What is the texture of each bite you take? Immerse yourself into everything you do and the frenetic pace of things will tone down. This will enable you to have a better time.
In contrast, the person who doesn’t practice mindfulness will find themselves juggling multiple things, like reading and responding to work emails while preparing dinner, or texting a friend while watching movie. This inevitably leads to overwhelm and stress, and you don’t want that during the holidays.
While this is related to setting boundaries, it has more to do with watching how much you take on in a physical sense. For example, singlehandedly preparing all the food that will be eaten on Christmas and also doing all the decorations, setting up the Christmas tree and cleaning up after dinner may be taking on too much, and that can take a toll on you.
To avoid this cause of stress and exhaustion during the holidays, take on tasks that you can comfortably complete without pushing your body, mind and spirit to the limit (and beyond). And speaking of not pushing yourself to the limit, we now come to the next approach-delegation.
You don’t have to be a one-man or one-woman army during the holidays. Learn how to delegate and restrict your activities to those only you can accomplish. For example, if you are the go-to person when it comes to baking the holiday cake, do you really have to personally buy the ingredients or you can send someone with a list of what you want? Better yet, why not order online and have the items delivered to your doorstep?
Delegation helps us to put our effort and time where they are most needed or impactful, and that applies to the holidays as well. You don’t have to do everything. Pick what you are good at or are important, and let others handle other tasks that need to be completed.
The holidays are a time to have a good time with family and friends after an entire year of busyness with work and other life commitments. Don’t let the activities inherent to the holiday season get to you and compromise your mental or physical health. Use the suggestions above as a springboard to having a great time during the holidays.
To Your Success,