Not everyone has a joyful, happy holiday. The stress of parties, gift-buying, travel, family and expectations can trigger or exacerbate mental health conditions. Here are some easy ways to keep yourself centered this holiday season.
Set Realistic Expectations
Don’t paint Norman Rockwell holiday scenes in your head, and especially avoid comparing yourself to other family members, advises the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Instead, adjust your expectations and try to focus on positive accomplishments and experiences.
Here Comes the Sun
Make sure to make time to soak up some rays, especially if you’re prone to seasonal changes in mood. Even indoor lighting, like fluorescent lights, can help. Punch up your exposure by taking a quick walk outside on a sunny day.
Stay Away From the Drinks
Alcohol is a depressant, and while it may be tempting to reach for a drink to relax at a party or after a stressful day, don’t do it. NAMI reports a 20 percent overlap between people with anxiety or mood disorders and substance use, even though alcohol and drugs can exacerbate their symptoms.
See Your Therapist
If you’re in therapy, stay there. With a busy holiday schedule, it can be difficult to keep appointments. But, make your therapist a priority. The holidays — with travel, family and more — can bring up a lot of emotions. Make sure that you’re coping with them in a healthy way. Keep up with your medications, too, and make sure you get any prescriptions filled before you hit the road.
We get it: You’re busy. Despite that, try hard to stick to your regular sleep schedule and routines. If your batteries are running low, don’t be afraid to take a day and recharge. However, don’t isolate yourself. Spend plenty of time with supportive, caring people.