Feeling lonely, sadness due to personal losses, and even conditions like seasonal-affective disorder — these are all issues that can affect people during the holiday season. It should come as no surprise, either; it’s an especially busy and stressful time of year, and it can be easy to feel lost among all the excitement.
Fortunately, there are some relatively simple ways to control your stress levels and promote a healthy mindset. Here are a few strategies for maintaining mental wellness around the holidays:
Budget Your Money and Your Time
Whether or not holiday stress, anxiety, depression or loneliness is something you’ve dealt with before, it’s always a great idea to be proactive this time of year. Here are some things you should budget out ahead of time:
Money – It can feel like there’s never enough money to get everything you want for everyone on your list. Financial wellness is connected to mental wellness, so don’t start working on your wishlist until you have a clear idea of how much you can afford without feeling uncomfortable about what’s on your credit card or in your bank account.
Time – With all the holiday parties, happenings, get-togethers, and shopping trips to get through — on top of your normal work and family responsibilities — your calendar can get out of control fast. Take a look at the next few weeks ahead and block out time for yourself along the way. You’d be surprised how much less stressful everything can feel if you plan it all out ahead of time.
Feel Empowered to Say No When Necessary
Even if you don’t really celebrate the holidays as much as other people, you’re still going to be asked for something by someone this time of year.
It’s 100% OK to say no when you feel like you’re taking on more than you can handle — whether it’s to someone inviting you to join them for an event or simply a local charity asking you for a donation. Not making it to every event isn’t going to make-or-break a relationship with someone, and not making a donation doesn’t make you a bad person.
Go Easy on Yourself
Even the best-laid plans for happy holidays go awry every now and then. Sometimes, our self-control loses out to the delicious food and drinks that surround us this time of year, or we spend just a little bit too much on gifts for friends and family. Just remember, no one is perfect, and what you do during the few weeks surrounding the holidays can’t and won’t define you for the next 12 months.
Stick With Routines You Know Work
You probably have normal routines that help keep you balanced and energized throughout the year. It could be your nightly walk outside, the hour you carve out every day to read a book, or the daily trip to the gym.
Whatever activity you count on to keep yourself happy and calm, stick with it as best as possible. You’ll find that all the excitement, energy, and stress that come along with the holidays aren’t quite as jarring when you’re sticking with things that are familiar and comfortable.
Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help
The feeling of loneliness and isolation is a big problem for many people this time of year, but there’s always someone who can help. If, despite your best efforts, you find that you’re still struggling to keep everything together, don’t be afraid to talk with friends, family members, or a medical professional about what you’re feeling.
If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis during the holidays — or any other time — free and confidential support is available 24/7 from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and it can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.