Navigating the Holidays with Your Mental Health in Mind    

 

Ahh...the holidays have arrived. I stepped outside this morning with a strong feeling of anticipation and excitement for the days ahead. It’s a time to reconnect with family members, to share our experiences from the year behind us, and talk of our plans for the future. It’s a wonderful time of year, though it can also be a source of discomfort and anxiety for us, too. I’ve put together a set of steps to help you navigate the holidays with your mental health at the top of your priority list. Here goes:

Gathered for the holidays

Remember, people are just curious.

For the sake of this article, let’s give your aunt Susan the benefit of the doubt. While some questions feel all too pressing, most of the time people ask questions out of genuine curiosity. It’s a way to fill in the gaps of conversation, not so much a means of casting judgement. With this in mind, let your defenses down and give your family members the benefit of the doubt. Here’s a pro tip: don’t ever let someone who’s “prying” make you feel insecure. If you remind yourself that they may just be asking questions to make conversation, you can then handle the situation like a pro.The best way to handle an uncomfortable situation is to simply leave it be. Don’t ever answer a question you feel uncomfortable addressing. If you feel awkward, try acknowledging the question with another question in a playful way. Remember, most of the time people are just curious. Don’t take it too personally.

Your health always comes first.

During this season we tend to do over do. Parties and social engagements can fill up our time and drain our energy. Remember, you don’t always have to say yes. Sometimes reserving some “alone time” is the most important thing you can do for your mental health. Enjoy a nice night in, curl up with your favorite book, and savor the silence. Your friends and family will understand, and there will likely be more opportunities to see them over the holidays.

Don’t go into debt buying Christmas presents.

I am SO guilty of this! Save your money and your peace of mind by gifting your friends and family with items you can actually afford. Or better yet, write a thoughtful handwritten note, make them something special, or even bake one of your favorite recipes. Be realistic about your budget, and what’s an appropriate gift for the phase of your life you’re currently in. This may be a chance to show loved ones how much they actually mean to you without expressing it with an expensive price tag. Get creative this year, your wallet will thank you for it.

Be where you are.

This sounds so simple, but often we tend to set high expectations for ourselves during this season. We want things to control situations so things will go the way we want them to,; we want to control people so they will  behave the way we feel they should. The truth is most circumstances are out of our control. Instead of letting this be a frustration, perhaps we can all see it is an opportunity to accept things as they are. Engage wholefully and purposefully with those around you, and savor the opportunity to relish the messy, the imperfect, and the circumstances out of our control.

Happy Thanksgiving. Wishing you lots of love, and warmth.

-A