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  • Brianna Paruolo

4 Tips for Maintaining Mental Health During the Holidays

The holiday season is often accompanied by messages of quality family time, laughter, lightness, and joy. What tends to be missing in our favorite holiday films is the increased stress level from the expectations of how the holiday “should” look like, added financial stress, increased feelings of loneliness, and emotional burnout. The best give you could gift yourself this year is to prioritize being kind to your mind.

Here are four tips to help you maintain your mental health during this busy time of year.

Tip #1: Prioritize Self-Care

Take a moment out of every day to ask yourself if all your basic needs are being met (Hydrating with water throughout the day, practicing sleep hygiene, not skipping any meals)

Maintaining self-care can look like meditating for 1-minute a day (Headspace features a great 1-minute mini meditation), listening to an enjoyable podcast, walking around your neighborhood, or taking a warm shower/bath.

Tip # 2 Set boundaries

Understand the boundaries that work best for you. The Holistic Psychologist, Dr. Nicole Le Pera, discusses the five types of boundaries and the importance of integrating them into your relationships. Some boundaries during the holiday season might look like…

Financial Boundaries: Choosing to participate or not in a Secret Santa at work or communicate a specific dollar amount to spend on gifts

Time Boundaries: Deciding where and how long you would like to spend your time celebrating

Tip #3 Challenge the “shoulds” by leading with intention

The media (hello, Hallmark channel!) does a great job telling us what the holidays “should” look like. Celebrating the holidays is much more complex than we are often led to believe. Going in with the intention to celebrate how you choose eliminates the pressure of the outcome instead of expecting everything to go “as it should”

Tip #4 Work with a mental health professional

When exploring the difficulties of the holiday season, NAMI presents the hard truth from a 2021 survey that reveals 60% of Americans are negatively impacted by the holiday season. Collaborating with a Mental Health professional can provide a safe space to navigate all the emotions and challenges that arise during the holiday season. This might look like identifying triggers, implementing effective coping strategies, and developing a plan of action.

The best time to practice any of these skills is before the stressful event(s) occur. Practice rehearsing boundaries with a friend before a big family gathering, or work with your mental health professional to create a safety plan that prioritizes your mental health first. No matter how you experience the holiday season, you do not have to do it alone.

Want to know more about maintaining mental health during the holidays? I help New York City college students and young professionals gain greater confidence, set healthier boundaries, and cultivate better relationships.

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