Holiday jingles, splashes of red and green, presents under the tree… it must be that time of the year!
In many cultures, the winter holiday represents a time of celebration and giving with friends and family. However, for some of us “the most wonderful time of the year” may be decidedly less than wonderful.
Research shows that the winter holidays can impact our mental wellbeing. It can be hard for some to maintain their holiday cheer amid cultural expectations, familial obligations, and (met or unmet) personal milestones.
While many people view this time as a critical life event, it is often marked by increased feelings of stress, loneliness, reduced mental well-being, and a myriad of physical health problems. Accordingly, it may be helpful to protect your mental well-being over the winter break.
Here are a few considerations to maintain your holiday cheer:
Commercials and TV shows construe this image of the “perfect” winter holiday. You know the scene: a pristine turkey dinner followed by present opening with family around a lavishly decorated evergreen tree. The expectation of a picturesque holiday experience can make anything less than feel inadequate by comparison.
However, changing our mindset from “what we lack” to “what we have” can help us cope with holiday stress4. By dropping perfectionism, we can avoid worrying about things out of our control, open ourselves to gratitude, and notice the positive things that happen at this time of year.
Protect your time, finances, and habits from the holiday rush. As crowded shopping malls and extended time off from work become the norm, it is unfeasible that everyone follow suit. We can’t all afford to lighten the bank account on gifts and décor, just as it is impractical for all of society to take a 2-week vacation.
While the holidays are a reminder to indulge a little and give yourself permission to celebrate, it is important to protect our time and healthy habits by avoiding over-indulgence (and perhaps that second slice of holiday cake!) and maintaining the boundaries that got us through this difficult year.
If you find yourself becoming stressed over the winter holiday, remind yourself to practice self-care and compassion. This may be especially pertinent considering the past few years (of pandemic).
In this season of giving, remember to give to yourself first by taking time to locate and reduce stressful feelings through mindfulness and meditation. If that isn’t for you, it may be perfectly fine to spend the holiday, rather than surrounded by hustle and bustle, in a more solitary space conducive for self-reflection and self-development.
A “self-care holiday” can look like chilling at home with a cozy book, sipping drinks under palm trees on a warm beach, or whatever activity (restful or active) that helps you recharge for the upcoming year. Let go of expectations and let your holiday unfold in a manner best for you.
We have some fantastic therapists available all through the holidays, incase you need any last minute support. Our Care Team is available every day to help you find a therapist that fits your needs!
This article was written by Isayah Alman during their time at Shift Collab.
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