Protecting Your Mental Health During the Holidays
The “most wonderful time of the year” is full of so many expectations—those we place
on ourselves, and those placed on us by others. We eagerly anticipate the break from
work and the delights that await us, but—as I’m sure we can almost all attest to—it
doesn’t take much during the holidays for our mental health to tank, quickly.
So, while the holidays present us with more time to be more present with our loved
ones, the opportunity is also a challenge to be more present with ourselves. A
provocation to go deeper into who we are, how we spend our time, and with whom we
spend our time.
HERE’S FIVE WAYS YOU CAN PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DURING THIS
- Make a list of your holiday pain points.
There are plenty of good reasons to have dread around the holidays. The family
member who always asks you invasive questions about your personal life. A flare up of
shame around finances or relational struggles or being single! Whatever your holiday
pain points are make them explicit. This will help you lead from a place of vulnerability
and self-acceptance. We can’t change what we can’t acknowledge. Name your fears.
- Prioritize what’s important.
There’s no perfect holiday, and you can’t do it all. Determine what is most essential and
let go of the rest. This honest appraisal will allow you to set realistic expectations with
yourself and others. Being present—truly present—is the greatest gift of all because you
deserve to enjoy the moment. Maybe that means less parties or the house isn’t perfectly
cleaned, but it does mean you are staying true to what’s important to you.
- Communicate your desires.
Being intentional with your loved ones is a sign of appreciation for what the holiday time
offers. By initiating a conversation to express your best hopes, you are letting other
people know they matter to you. Whether you have a desire to go on a holiday hike or
make a meal together (keep it simple), don’t be afraid to express it, whatever happens.
- Expect to get triggered (sorry!).
Extra family time can also mean tough situations to navigate! If you get trigged by a
conversational topic or something else, remove yourself. Responding, as opposed to
reacting, means taking the timeout you need to regulate. Consider taking a deep breath,
going for a walk outside, or texting with friend. Having a plan in place for when you get
activated allows you to exercise self-care and not let other people take away your
peace. (You can always address the situation later one-on-one from a regulated place if
you choose to.)
- Love yourself and let others love you too.
Maintaining healthy boundaries like protecting your sleep or exercise is just as essential during the holidays. Stick to these habits of self-care and don’t get distracted by what others want. The people who love you want your health, meaning you can ask for what you need, and, most importantly, you don’t have to protect other people from yourself. Those who love you want to know your struggles (not feigned enthusiasm) and are not overwhelmed by them. Love makes one more lovable. Let yourself be loved.
This Post Written By:
Nicole Rizkallah, LAMFT – Therapy With Heart
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
Phone: (480) 888-5380
Fax: (480) 203-2881