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  • Writer's pictureDana Qablawi

Why Is It Important To Prioritize Your Mental Health During the Holiday Season?

Updated: Apr 4

Woman drinking tea on couch with dog self care mental health holiday season holiday blues depression anxiety stress therapy counselling Kitchener Waterloo Oakville London

As we begin to approach the holiday season I wanted to take some time to discuss the importance of prioritizing your own mental health.

While the holiday season can bring about feelings of holly and jolly, it can also bring up feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. Taking some time for yourself to prioritize your mental health this holiday season is important, especially when you may be surrounded by social events, gift giving, and travelling.

Why Does the Holiday Season Bring About These Feelings?

There is no clear driving factor as to what brings about the development of these holiday blues but if we really break it down there is a lot that occurs during the holidays. The changes in time and weather may bring about seasonal affective disorder, excess social commitments, emotional and financial pressures, and even the criticism we may receive from our families. There are also many individuals who live apart from their families and are unable to see them over the season. This can bring about feelings of loneliness and stress.

Regardless of the reasons, you are not alone in the feelings you experience over the holiday season. The important thing is to learn how to manage both mental and emotional health during this time of year through positive and healthy methods.

When it comes to our mental health, it isn’t something that comes and goes and it is not a linear process. We may have been having a great couple of months but notice as we approach the holiday’s our mental health begins to take a turn. That is completely okay!

When we talk about the holiday blues what we are really referring to is feelings of excess stress, often due to unrealistic exceptions around the holiday season. Finding the right methods to help you work through these feelings of frustration, sadness, fatigue, anxiety, loneliness, and many more are essential! Doing so will help to alleviate the stress you may be feeling and hopefully bring about a new perspective that will allow you to enjoy the season and the new year to come.

5 Tips to Support Your Mental Health This Holiday Season

Before we get into some ways to help manage stress during the holidays I wanted to take a moment and note that everyone is different. What may work for one person may not work for another and that is okay. We are all unique, our mental health is unique, and the circumstances around us are unique. It is all about finding what works for you.

Tip 1: Set Aside Time for Yourself

If you start to feel as though things are becoming too hectic, don’t be afraid to step away and take some time for yourself to destress. The holidays are often filled with jam packed schedules of plans and gatherings which can sometimes become mentally draining. Setting aside some time for yourself and prioritizing your needs is important.

Setting aside time for ourselves can also allow us to implement our own holiday traditions. If you love to knit, then knit and make it part of your holiday festivities. Same with baking, cooking, spa days, or just anything that makes you happy and brings some holiday cheer!

Tip 2: Give Yourself Permission to Feel Your Emotions

When you begin to feel an array of emotions, remind yourself that is is okay to feel them. By giving yourself permission to feel your emotions can go a long way. When we try to deny our emotions and feelings can actually harm us more than feeling our emotions.

If you begin to feel as though your emotions are taking over, you can utilize some of these positive coping strategies: taking deep breaths, journaling, meditating, taking a nap, stepping back from a specific situation, and engage in some positive self-talk.

Tip 3: Be Patient With Yourself and With Others

It’s important to keep in mind that it takes time, patience, and self-compassion to sort out complicated emotions and to understand the circumstances surrounding them. Slowing down our bodies and mind can help to bring down stress levels. You can do this by making deep breathing exercises a daily practice. Rather than becoming angry or irritated, work on viewing the situation through a new lens and responding with kindness even in tough situations

Practice self-compassion this holiday season. We are more likely to be critical of ourselves when we feel down or ashamed. One way you can practice self-compassion this holiday season is by treating yourself as you would a friend—for example, use self-talk that includes comforting or affectionate words.

Tip 4: Remember to Adjust Your Expectations

Having expectations of how our holiday season will go is inevitable. Just remember that circumstances can change. If we set expectations too high, then it can be easy for us to be disappointed if things do not work out. The same can be said for setting expectations too low. If we stop ourselves from enjoying our time with friends, family, significant others, or even just ourselves, we can rob ourselves from a good time. It is okay to be excited and it is also okay to be disappointed, the main thing to remember is that circumstances and change and we can always turn things around.

Tip 5: Know You Can Always Reach Out for Help

Whether you are reaching out to a friend, a family member, a counsellor, or a support group, reaching out to talk can always help. Speaking to someone you trust can help to bring focus to any specific triggers and how to utilize healthy tools to overcome the negative feelings.

For 24/7 help, ConnexOntario can offer free mental health support that is confidential. They can help by listening, offering support, and provide strategies to work through your circumstances. To contact them you can call 1-866-531-2600 or online chat through their cite.

We Are Always Here for You

You can always call us at Anchoridge Counselling and we can get you booked in for a session with your clinician. You can always discuss the upcoming holidays with them and work to create a plan for when you are experiencing mental health struggles over the holidays.

Thanks for reading,

Dana Qablawi

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