Updated: Jan 10
There are a lot of people going through tough times right now. It is just before the holidays, and for a lot of people, it can mean hard memories or financial stress. The holidays can be hard. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to the difficulties that the holidays can bring up. I am certainly no stranger! Here is a list of things you can do to help you stay happy and healthy or simply get through the holiday season. <3
1. Practice Self-Care.
Making some sort of self-care routine and remaining consistent to it will do wonders for your mental health no matter what you are going through: be it loss, divorce, financial stress, etc. Take time to rest, exercise, eat a balanced diet, read, and simply breathe. Taking a minute out of your day to breathe deeply will lower your heart rate and help clear your mind. Pamper yourself with a massage or a face mask. Try making a conscious effort to take care of yourself.
If you are dieting, allow yourself times to indulge. You are dieting to make healthy changes in your life. Constantly restricting yourself can leave to feelings of deprivation resulting in unhealthy habits like bingeing or overeating!
2. Give yourself permission.
To say no, to ask for help, to not be okay, to be okay. For some people, traditions, smells, and sights can trigger difficult memories. Remember that you are in charge of your own happiness, and sometimes that actually means giving yourself permission to not be okay. Maybe you seek the serenity of nature, and you don’t feel like celebrating. That’s okay. Let yourself feel how you need to. Sometimes that is simply all you need.
As the trees lose their leaves and return to their roots for life source, nature shows us that winter is a time of introspection. Winter is a time of reflection. Introspection helps you to understand yourself more deeply. The holidays are commercially a time for holiday cheer and family values. Take time to reflect on what family values mean to you. Perhaps it is being around people who simply value you as you, or maybe it is about being around people with similar values to you. Your family values are your own. Think about them. Reflect on them. Understand them. This will help you to understand yourself better and will help you to make happier decisions in your life based simply on your values.
Volunteering is positive thing that makes a difference in the lives of others (animals included!), the community, and even yourself. By increasing social interaction, you are helping to decrease your risk of depression. You are building a support system based on common commitment and interests as well as staying physically and mentally active. In cases where you may be financially restrained, volunteering can help you focus on ways that you are able to give to others. Plus, it gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment!
5. Remain flexible and accept.
Much of the pain surrounding the holiday times are related to expectations and disappointments. Being flexible and trying to let go of your expectations will help to save you from unnecessary disappointment and heartache. This goes along with how you might expect certain celebrations to go, how your pie turned out, to how you might view your loved ones. Acceptance is one of the basic desires we all have and the greatest gift you could give anyone.
6. Try to make as many good days as possible.
Start each morning with a meditation or mantra that will help you navigate the day. Giving yourself the opportunity to create a good day for yourself is very empowering. I highly recommend using the Application: “Insight Timer” for this. They have morning meditations that give you affirmations to focus on throughout the day. The power of positive thinking is real. Not all days are easy, but remember, hard does not equal horrible. These habits are meant to help you to navigate the hard times. Sometimes a simple change in perspective is all that is needed to bring your spirits up.
7. Let your loved ones know that you love them.
After all, isn’t this what the holidays is about? Letting someone know that you love them and care about them may mean more to them than you realize. Also, it may mean a lot to you. Life is precious and uncertain. You will always have peace knowing that your loved ones know you care.
8. Practice Self and Social Awareness.
Practicing awareness of your self and also trying to be aware of how others around you may be feeling will make a huge difference in your life and perhaps others’. Practicing self-awareness means acknowledging your feelings. A great practice for this is making an observation journal of your thoughts and feelings without judgement. You may be surprised what comes up, and you will also gain a deeper understanding of your feelings by articulating them.
Building social awareness involves listening and paying attention to how your interactions with others go. This will help you to identify their emotional state and allow you to give the empathy and compassion that they may need during this holiday season.
9. Budget for your wallet and the environment.
Before you shop, make a plan for how much money you want to spend. This will alleviate some of the financial stress that you may have as well as limit impulsive purchases. Remember you’re not trying to buy anyone’s approval or happiness… just give simple gestures that you care and love them. Maybe even consider handmade gifts or donating to charities in someone's name.
Create a list of standards that a company must meet in order for you to give them your money. Perhaps it is as simple as where something is manufactured (remember local is always best) or do some research and learn about the company's environmental and social practices: water conservation, waste, carbon footprint, etc. Look for Certified B Corporations. It is your due-diligence to make informed purchases that help to support the conservation of our environment as well as the quality of life for others.
10. Plan and get organized.
Having a schedule has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Set some time aside to write down everything that you need to do, then start to allocate certain days where you are going to complete the tasks: shopping, baking, volunteering, cleaning, etc.
Speaking of cleaning, decluttering and organizing your space can help you to relax and think more clearly.
I hope these tips help you, and that you are able to have a happy holiday season. There are so many changes we can personally make to drastically change our life and the lives of others.
Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your efforts, you may still feel hopeless or anxious or have physical difficulties.
There are several free resources with professionals that want to help you:
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Addiction Hotline: 1-888-633-3239
Eating Hotline: 1-800-442-4673
Selfharm Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Depression Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
If you are not comfortable calling: