Embracing the Holidays

Jen Noonan MA, LPC, CACIII

I don’t know about you, but each time I read a “10 Ways to…” or “Top 8 Reasons Why…” I end up feeling like I have to follow everything on the list. Each tip sounds like a great idea, but in reality, can we really follow ALL of the recommendations? My advice is to pick and choose what you find helpful, and set an intention to follow a few of them to make your life more peaceful during these often stressful times. Here are a few of my favorite mental health tips:

FAMILY / FRIENDS – Many of us spend time with family and friends during the holiday season. This either results in a festive, joyful time, or a dramatic one, resulting from stuff that has happened in the past. Try ahead of time to put your expectations into perspective. If someone who you don’t get along with will be at an event, decide ahead of time what you can do to make the event as peaceful as possible. Think about how you will or will not interact with that person. You could also choose to not attend the event, or attempt to resolve your concern with the person prior to the event.

PRIORITIZE – Decide which holiday events and activities you are most interested in, and commit to only these. Maybe the event is available yearly, and you can go next year instead. Adding too many events to the calendar can result in burnout. Doing too much can result in moodiness, a lack of quality sleep, and poor nutrition and exercise habits.

LOSS OF A LOVED ONE – Moving through the holiday season without loved ones can intensify underlying feelings of grief. We remember the wonderful times we had with them, and find it difficult to accept they are not here to celebrate with us. This is one of the most important times to call on your support team. Ask for what you need from them, and how they can best help you to cope. Be careful not to isolate, as this can lead to depression.

NUTRITION – It is very easy to raid the buffet table at parties and events during the holidays. This is because the food looks delicious, and is often free and abundant! It is also easy to use the excuses “It’s the holidays…I deserve it…I’ll start working out in the New Year…A little bit won’t hurt…I’m stressed…” However, I don’t need to go into all of the ways in which certain foods (and the amounts ingested) affect your body and mind, and steer you away from that positive path I know you were on! The key to nutrition during the holidays is awareness. Have a plan of action to include what is and what isn’t off limits before you even step foot into the event. Be aware of how much you’re heaping on your plate, and ask yourself it this is too much. “Do I really need three brownies, AND two cake pops? How am I going to feel after I have eaten all of this?” Try to eat the fruits, vegetables, and nuts first, and return for dessert only if needed.

EXERCISE – If you have an established exercise routine, the holidays are not the time to depart from it. Try as much as possible to stick with the same schedule you have maintained throughout the year. As far as I am aware, gyms are mostly open during the holidays, and trainers are often available. If you are traveling out of town, check into the local gyms / yoga studios which tend to offer guest passes, or the ability to pay a daily fee. If the weather cooperates, go for walks or runs, especially if the sun is shining. Exercise during this time will not only assist in reducing stress, it will keep your metabolism burning those excess holiday calories.

SELF-CARE – It is easy to get distracted and caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, to the extent that you put self-care on the back burner. Be certain to schedule some down time for relaxation. Reading, taking a hot bath, art work, journaling, yoga classes, working out, and watching a favorite movie are only a few of the many things you can do to keep yourself grounded and focused, resulting in less physical and mental stress.

This entry was posted in Wellness Community Blog and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

Give the Gift of Health