Blogmas Day Five is here, and this post is hopefully coming to you at the perfect time. As much as I love the holiday season, there are things about it that really stress me out, and I can sometimes get really overwhelmed. Because of that, I am more prone to anxiety attacks this time of the year, so I have to really focus on my mental health to ensure I’m not having a breakdown every five minutes. However, my anxiety this year has been pretty low, all things considered (yes Covid, I’m talking about you), and it’s because I’ve really been focusing on self-care. This year has taught me A LOT about myself, and I have realized that there are certain things that are just not worth stressing about. Now don’t get me wrong, I still care about what others think of me to an unhealthy degree, but I have also recognized that it’s an issue, and I’m starting to get better at doing things for myself regardless of what other’s think or say.
Today’s post is all about how you can take care of your mental health; I wrote these tips while thinking about the things that I needed to hear most when it comes to being stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I hope these tips can help you reflect, and give you some ideas on how you can take better care of your mental health this holiday season.
1. People are who they are, and it’s okay to accept that.
With the holidays comes family time, and family time equals spending time with a bunch of relatives that you may or may not get along with. Every year, there are certain people in my family that I wish I could change. I don’t see eye-to-eye with many people in my family (we all grew up so differently), and for an introvert like me, it can be really difficult to be surrounded by a big, outspoken group of people that often have views that are completely different from my own. It put me in a bad mood, and some years I would actually get into fights with my family members over a difference of opinion, and it would just make the whole evening turn sour and unpleasant. It made it to where I began dreading any type of family gathering, and I would get anxious and nervous and just not want to go.
What I had to realize is that nothing I do or say would change my family members. We are all so different; different ages, different backgrounds, different educations, and by trying to change them I was just making it to where no one was having a good time. I had to accept them for who they are, and start focusing on their positive qualities, because nothing is ever black and white. I’ll admit that this was very hard to do, but it makes it much more pleasant to be around them, and while I know we’ll never think alike, it makes the holidays much more enjoyable (for me and for them) to just be present and focus on the positive.
2. Be organized
Make a list in the morning of all the things you have to do and want to do. This will help you prioritize the important things, and help you let go of the things that can wait or don’t need to get done at all. The feeling of having too much on your plate can be a huge source of feeling overwhelmed this time of the year, so making sure you are only doing the things that actually need to be done is a great way to keep your plate from getting too full.
3. Take the time to do the things you enjoy about the season
It’s easy to get caught up in the gift-wrapping, shopping, baking, and decorating of the season, but are you enjoying any of it? Take a minute to stop and enjoy the season. Walk around your neighborhood and look at the Christmas lights. Warm up some cocoa and put on your favorite Christmas movie. Inhale the smell of fresh cookies and pie coming from the oven. It’s okay to slow down for a minute and remind yourself of why you’re doing all this decorating, shopping, baking, and gift-wrapping in the first place.
4. Take care of yourself
Make sure you are eating, drinking, and sleeping enough. It’s easy to slip up on your self-care when you have a lot to do, but it’s also much easier to get overwhelmed and slip into panic-mode when you haven’t properly taken care of what your body needs. Investing time in yourself will more than pay off for your general-sense of well-being throughout the season.
5. Stick to your budget
A big part of stress around the holidays is the financial burden it can place on you. It can be difficult not to get everyone you care about the exact gift they want, but it’s also important to remember that gifts are not the only way to express love. There are tons of ideas out there nowadays for DIY crafts and gifts, and often times gifts that are made are much more coveted by the receiver than anything you could have bought from the store. If making gifts aren’t your thing, then look at budget-friendly lists of gift ideas that you may not have thought about, but that will still bring a smile to your loved ones face. Just make sure to identify an amount that you feel comfortable spending, and come up with a way to track what you’ve spent. Going in with a plan of what you’re getting for people and how much each item is can make it much easier to not go over-budget.
6. Random acts of kindness
Get into the holiday season of giving. Be generous to street musicians, volunteer for a day, donate to the local charity. No one wants to be the Scrooge; it’s okay to get into the spirit of the holidays. Doing good will help you feel good.
7. Don’t wait till the last minute to get your gifts
Don’t wait until the last minute to get all of your gifts. This is just asking for stress; what if the store is sold out of some of the things you wanted? What if there is a huge line that you don’t have time to wait in? Spreading out the shopping will make it much easier for you to get the items you actually wanted to get, and also make it easier to not get overwhelmed by the lines, money spending, and gift-wrapping that comes along with each gift you buy.
8. Take time to be grateful
Studies show that taking the time to be grateful has enormous mental and physical health benefits. It helps us have a more positive outlook, which will help with feelings of anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed. Ways that you can be grateful are:
- Writing a list of the top 5 things you feel most grateful for at that moment (I do this in my gratitude journal every day)
- Writing a letter to a person you are grateful for (you don’t have to give them this letter, just writing it will have the same effect on your well-being)
- Write down 5 positive things that happened to you today
The benefits of being grateful take time, so you have to be consistent with it, but what better time to start than during the holidays?
The holiday season may be full of hustle and bustle, but it doesn’t have to drive us crazy. As long as you’re taking the time to check in with yourself and take care of your mental health, you will make it through the season feeling better than when you started. The best gift for yourself and others is the gift of happiness and comfort, and those things aren’t possible if you’re feeling overwhelmed. I wish you the best! See you all tomorrow for Day 6 of Blogmas!