In a normal year, the holidays are meant to be a time of joy and happiness. The most wonderful time of the year… but 2020 has, for many of us, been very long, filled with more anxiety than usual! Now that the holiday season is upon us, those anxious feelings are compounded, both thanks to regular Covid stressors, and the inability of many to be with their loved ones.
So, is there anything we can do to boost our mental health during the holidays while staying physically safe? It’s important to focus on your mental wellness now and think about how you can increase the positives and reduce your stressors all season long.
Tips to Boost Mental Health During the Holidays
Being proactive and changing your perspective can be incredibly effective when it comes to reducing stress and protecting your mental health during the holidays.
1. Stay Connected
Even though we may not be able to physically be with loved ones this season, it’s important to stay connected. Just because you can’t celebrate in person, that doesn’t mean you can’t be social! Have a phone call, a FaceTime call, or a Zoom meeting. Gather a group to catch up. Play a game, or just chat.
Also, consider taking the time to reach out to people you know are alone. They may be struggling more than usual this year – and reaching out can make all the difference.
2. Avoid Panic Buying for Presents
There may not be many shopping days left, but don’t stress. Our options may be different this year, but that does not mean the options are limited.
- Consider what you can make yourself. Pinterest is a veritable font of ideas for useful or heartwarming DIY gifts. From health and beauty, to food and home decor, there are tons of things you can make at home to give as presents to those on your list. And you may even discover a new hobby!
- Shop local. With many small businesses struggling, the holiday season is the perfect time to support someone in your area. Browse Facebook and Instagram for local vendors, or ask friends and family for recommendations.
- Shop online. The malls, even with social distancing measures in place, will be wild, so consider shopping online (just factor in delivery estimates).
3. Stay Active
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, exercise can be one of the best ways to bring those levels down. Exercise is one of the easiest and most effective ways to manage stress and your overall mental and physical health. Go for a walk or run. Take a hike with your pup through the woods. And, if you’re outside, consider a socially distanced visit with friends or family.
And, after you’re tired out from that nice hike, get some sleep. It’s just as important for stress relief as exercise! Take a hot bath or read before bed – and avoid your phone and the television. Here are some tips if you’re having trouble sleeping these days.
While we may find it hard to focus on the positives with all the negatives swirling around, it’s important to look for those positives. Consider some of the ways you can change your perspective. Perhaps the restrictions are forcing you to slow down and really narrow in on what’s important. Maybe it’s giving you the chance to get less caught up in the hustle and bustle, the constant social pressure, or the need to do “everything.” Think about how you are able to spend more time with yourself and those closest to you this season.
Be thankful for what you have, and show gratitude and kindness to others. Those things are far more precious than the material.
5. Ask for Help
If you’re struggling, as so many do this time of year, remember that you’re not alone. Reach out and ask for help. Sometimes all it takes is someone to talk to about what’s going on in your life, what has you feeling anxious, or just to help you cope. It might be someone you know and trust. It might be a complete stranger. Whatever you’re comfortable with, take the leap and reach out.
Remember: It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength and courage.
This year, as we all work to deal with life during a pandemic, remember to focus on what’s important and to take the time to build up your mental health during the holidays.