The holiday season is often portrayed as a universally joyful time, but for many people it can be a difficult time of year. It’s full of stressors- less sunlight, more pressure to spend, increased social engagements, and frequent reminders of personal loss, to name a few. As a result, many people experience some form of the “holiday blues”. This can include fatigue, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, tension, frustration, or a sense of loss. Though these symptoms are often temporary, they have an impact on a person’s mental health during the holiday season and moving forward. Here are a few tips for managing stressors and caring for your mental health during the holidays.
- Don’t overcommit yourself - be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
- Spend time with caring and supportive people.
- Plan your travel to minimize stress. Assess whether that means shorter day trips or longer stays.
- Work on a budget ahead of time and find cost-effective ways to celebrate. Using cash or a debit card can help curb spending.
- Prioritize sleep and exercise.
- Find opportunities to spend time outside in the sunlight.
- Watch overindulging – seek out healthy food and limit alcohol.
- Pick up a winter hobby or join a group with planned get-togethers.
- Find a volunteer opportunity! You can get in touch with United Way to get ideas.
- Reach out to a trusted peer.
- Remember that you cannot please everyone and while it is the season of giving, in order to give to others, you must first take care of yourself.
- Set boundaries. Don’t force yourself to spend time with stressful relationships.
- Take regular breaks from social media and remember that things are not always as they appear online.
- Build in time for relaxation (check out some of these free mindfulness resources).
- Reflect on the positive experiences of the past year and think about what you are looking forward to in the new year.
Finally, if you find yourself needing help, resources, or simply someone to talk to during the holidays, help is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week through 211 Maine (Dial 211 or text your zip code to 898-211) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255).