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Tips to Take Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays

While the numerous holiday-themed movies and commercials may have you convinced that everyone is happy during the holidays, this couldn’t be further from the truth. According to a poll by the American Psychiatric Association, 41% of Americans say their level of stress increases during the holidays.

Navigating the holiday season introduces a slew of new challenges, from affording holiday gifts to finding the time to connect with long-distance friends and family. We’ve compiled some of our best holiday mental health resources to help get you through the season. Here are some strategies to stay balanced and joyful during the holidays.

1. Don’t Try to Do Too Much

The holidays are a hectic time, and it can be easy to take on too much. To avoid this common pitfall, it’s helpful to create a schedule and stick to it. Sitting yourself down early on and planning out your weekly or daily to-do list ensures you’ve budgeted your time effectively. It also means that when your mom asks you if you can shop for her decorations as well as your own, you know whether that’s something you actually have the bandwidth to take on.

In terms of holiday mental health, it’s normal to struggle with sticking to your plan. If you often struggle to commit to a schedule, incorporate weekly or daily rewards for accomplishing your tasks. For every week you stay ahead of schedule, buy yourself a fancy hot chocolate or other festive beverage! Additionally, good holiday schedules include time set aside for self-care, not just for tasks that need to get done. From treating yourself to your own holiday gifts to keeping a daily journal, there are many ways to prioritize self-care during the holidays.

Maintaining your routine is a valuable holiday mental health resource as it provides a sense of normalcy and structure in the midst of chaos. The holidays can cause major disruptions in how you’d normally spend your day, but healthy habits and routines are vital to bolstering your mental health.

Find at least a couple of daily habits to keep in place during this time of year. Prioritizing even a small part of your usual routine will do wonders for your well-being throughout the holidays.

2. Create a Budget

A man counting dollar bills

According to a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in 2022, 57% of Americans have found it more difficult to afford the gifts they want to give.

Holiday mental health can be improved by starting the season with a pre-planned budget to help lessen the stress associated with holiday shopping and the credit card bill that comes in January. Decide how much you are willing and able to spend, as well as who you want to prioritize buying presents for.

For some more budget-friendly thoughtful gifts, consider homemade gifts or planning experiences. For example, creating a beautiful scrapbook for your sister using affordable materials from a dollar store won’t break the bank while still being a meaningful way to express your gratitude for her. Additionally, positive experiences are great holiday mental health resources for both you and the recipient. Planning a fun date like a scavenger hunt or picnic for your partner can be just as good as, if not better than, an expensive material gift.

3. Set Boundaries

Reconnecting with family you don’t see often is a beloved holiday tradition, but this doesn’t mean you must sacrifice your own needs to prioritize everyone else’s. Your aunt may mean well, but if her pestering you with questions about when you’ll get married and have kids is too much for you, set a boundary with her early on. It’s not worth putting your holiday mental health at risk. Tell her that you don’t want to be asked those types of questions before she even has the chance to ask you in the first place.

There are also family members you may not see often that come with concerns requiring more nuance than an overly curious aunt. It’s not uncommon for some to worry about family members with personality disorders that make them challenging to be around. For those who don’t see these family members very often, being unprepared for these interactions can lead to even more issues. Invest in holiday mental health resources to navigate these kinds of personalities more easily. Consider treating yourself to supportive therapy that can help navigate potentially antagonistic family members, or highly peer-reviewed books as a holiday gift this year to prepare yourself.

That all being said, the most important people to set boundaries with during the holiday season are those you see every week of the year, such as a partner or close sibling. If you’re experiencing heightened stress levels this time of year, it’s not unlikely everyone else in your life is as well. They may want to lean on you more heavily than usual and have unique holiday mental health expectations. Setting aside time early in the season to discuss expectations and boundaries will not only prevent potential conflict but also strengthen your relationships.

4. Give Therapy a Try

A man sitting on a sofa

Therapy can be a great mental health resource during the holidays. It can help with navigating family stress, budget stressors, long work hours, and many more common holiday problems. For those suffering from social anxiety, the holidays may be especially challenging. Check out our article on how to deal with social anxiety during the holidays for more resources.

Moreover, therapy is a good idea to keep up with no matter the season, and it can make a great holiday mental health gift for yourself. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a therapist or don’t have the time for it, there are many online therapy programs that allow you to seek help at a place and time that is convenient for you.

A Joyful Mind is a Holiday Gift

The holidays don’t have to be a source of dread. On the contrary, they can be a time to rejuvenate your mental health. By implementing the tips we discussed here, you can transform holiday stress into an opportunity for personal growth. If you’re looking for mental health support or hypnotherapy near Miami, we can help.

Miami Hypnosis and Therapy engages in a multi-faceted approach, combining numerous psychotherapy techniques to create a tailor-made program for each individual. We also offer teletherapy sessions for those who prefer to seek help online. Contact us to learn how we can help you manage your mental health during the holidays.

Anna Marchenko

Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. is the principal therapist at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy. She holds a bachelor's degree from NYU and dual masters degrees from Columbia University. Marchenko’s hypnosis certification is from the only hypnosis program in Florida that has been certified by the state’s Board of Education. She helps her clients by utilizing an integrative approach to psychotherapy, tailored to each individual’s mental health journey, drawing from hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP therapy, EMDR, and more.

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