The holidays can be a time of joy, but for many people, the holiday season brings other feelings—stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and overwhelm.
If the holidays are more “no, no, no” and less “ho, ho, ho” for you, don’t worry—you aren’t alone! In fact, 64% of people who struggle with mental health say that the holidays are extra hard.
Prioritizing your mental health is always important. But it’s even more crucial around the holidays.
Read on to find out why mental health matters and how to take care of yourself this holiday season.
Why the Holiday Blues Happen
Why aren’t the holidays always the most wonderful time of the year? For many people, holidays bring up unresolved family issues or tension.
For others, the problems stem from financial issues or difficulty taking a break from work. Others find the stress of shopping and planning holiday get-togethers to be overwhelming.
Finally, many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and struggle due to the lack of sunlight and outdoor exposure during colder winter months.
Between the weather, family tension, finances, and responsibilities, the holidays can weigh heavily on your shoulders—especially if you feel pressured to put on a happy face and act joyful.
The Impact of Mental Health on Your Body
But putting on that happy face isn’t always easy, and ignoring your mental health is dangerous.
Untreated and unmanaged mental health issues don’t just go away. If left alone, the holiday blues can impact your overall wellbeing, leading to depression, anxiety, and even physical health problems.
Long-term stress and mental health concerns are linked to sleep disorders, high blood pressure, and even increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Holidays
Fortunately, there are ways you can help yourself and your mental health at home Here are some tips to prioritize and manage your mental health this holiday season:
1. Determine Your Triggers
Figure out what’s causing the most stress for you and commit to making yourself a priority. That might mean skipping some holiday events or leaving from get-togethers early. Maybe you need to do your shopping online to avoid crowds.
If you’re suffering from gift overwhelm, suggest a Secret Santa exchange or a White Elephant exchange in your family or friend circle to reduce your workload.
Awareness is the best way to start managing stress and finding ways to avoid your triggers.
2. Practice Gratitude
“Gratitude” gets tossed around a lot in the mental health world, and for good reason. Research has shown that daily practices of gratitude can actually change the function of your brain, welcoming in positivity and making it easier to see the good in the world.
You can start daily gratitude practices by keeping a gratitude journal, verbalizing three things you’re grateful for every morning, or writing thank-you notes for those in your life who lift you up.
The more you commit to gratitude, the more positive your mental health outlook becomes!
3. Manage Your Expectations
When your mental health is struggling, it can be difficult and overwhelming to complete tasks.
Break your to-do list into digestible chunks and stay realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish.
Don’t be afraid to say no or delegate tasks as needed.
4. Journal Every Day
Free journaling is a great way to release stress and improve your mental health. You don’t have to worry about grammar, spelling, or sentence flow—just let yourself write what’s in your heart.
You can vent about family struggles, express your financial worries, write about work stress, or whatever is on your mind.
Set a time for journaling every day and make it a priority. Some people prefer to journal either first thing in the morning or right before bed.
Staying relaxed even in the hustle and bustle of the holidays is very important to your mental health. Meditation can lower stress levels, reduce cortisol, and give you control over your brain and body.
Find time to excuse yourself from your day and spend 5-10 minutes in quiet meditation. Keep up this habit even when family is visiting or you’re dealing with other responsibilities. Make yourself a priority.
6. Keep Up Your Exercise Regimen
It’s tempting to skip your daily exercise around the holidays—particularly when mental health struggles are in the picture.
But sticking to your fitness routine is important. Exercise reduces stress and improves mental health. It’s also important to stick to your normal routine and prioritize your physical health.
If the holidays have you too busy, think of workarounds to get in at least a few minutes of cardio. You might not have time to go to the gym, but perhaps you can replace it with a daily walk or five minutes of jumping rope.
Just make sure to get your body moving and make exercise a daily priority!
7. Stick to a Healthy Diet
One of the contributors to stress during the holidays is food. You’re facing temptation, being given food full of sugar, which impacts your physical and mental health.
Many popular holiday foods drain you of energy, increase inflammation, and leave you feeling worse than you did before you ate.
We all deserve to enjoy holiday foods! But sticking to a healthy diet even during the holidays can help when you’re struggling with mental health. Keep sweets and fats in moderation and make sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables to boost your energy and balance out the sweets.
You should also prioritize taking healthy supplements, like OPCXtra. Packed with powerful antioxidants (pine bark extract, red wine extract, green tea extract, and grape seed extract), OPCXtra provides your body a way to stabilize mental health and fight off the negative effects of less-than-healthy holiday foods.
You can enjoy a guilt-free and low-stress holiday by taking care of your body!
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