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  • Marie Clifton

Planning for The Holidays. 5 Tips to Manage Your Stress and Mental Health During the Holiday Season

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

The holiday season is supposed to be a time full of joy and happiness, but it can also be an especially stressful time of the year. The holiday season can bring on high expectations, changes in routines and grieving losses, causing greater anxiety and depression. Holiday plans may look very different this year due to the effects of COVID-19. If you are anticipating any of these challenges, here are some tips to help manage your stress and mental health during the holiday season.

1, Utilize your support.

It may be easy to feel alone with the effects of COVID-19 changing your standard holiday plans. Although you may feel alone, it does not mean you are alone. Reach out and spend time with the positive and supportive people in your life. That is what they are there for! How you utilize your support system this holiday season may be different than past years but still essential in managing your stress and mental health.

2. Be realistic with your expectations.

The holiday season can bring on high demands that may cause you to think “I should” be able to do it all. It is okay to say “no” to plans you just do not have time for or simply do not want to do. Additionally, the holiday season may cause you to think “I should” be happy all the time; however, it is normal to have feelings of sadness and grief. Be realistic and do not give yourself expectations you would not put on someone else.

3. Stick to your routine.

During the demands of holiday season, you may try to take shortcuts when it comes to taking care of basic needs. When your basic needs are neglected your mental health can decline. Examples of basic needs include nutritional diet, sleep, medication management, maintaining medical appointments, exercise, personal hygiene and seeking social support. Maintaining your basic needs can help you manage your mental health and stress.

4. Plan ahead.

Trying to rush everything at the last minute may bring on additional stress. Planning ahead and taking care of one task at a time will help reduce the risk of becoming overwhelmed. Due to the effects of COVID-19, it may feel like carrying on the holiday traditions are just not possible. Give yourself time to plan ahead and see what traditions can still be experienced, just in a different way. The holiday season can be prone to triggering emotions and memories caused by grief and loss. Planning ahead may not change how you feel but it can help get through this difficult time of year.

5. Give yourself permission to ask for help.

The holiday season can be overwhelmingly busy and may cause you to cancel therapy sessions or time with loved ones to find more time in your busy schedule. Whether it is from a trusted friend, loved one, supportive co-worker or mental health professional, give yourself permission to ask for help. The holiday season can bring up difficult emotions that can be challenging to cope through alone. You do not have to suffer in silence!

While the stressors of the holidays season can feel isolating, remember that you are not alone! You have the right to take care of yourself. Do not be afraid to reach out for professional help if you are having challenges during the holiday season with managing your stress or mental health. We are here to help not only during the holiday season but through all seasons of life!

Marie Clifton

LCSW

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