The holiday season has a way of triggering our emotions. The highs feel euphoric and the lows can feel bone-deep. It’s not uncommon for your mental health to take a dip. But It doesn’t have to be that way. You CAN navigate the winter holidays with a sense of balance and calm. You can come out more resilient than ever with these practical tips.
Understanding Self-Care and Ties to Mental Health
Self-care is a commonly used term today, but its true meaning has become detached from the word during all the buzz. You may imagine self-care as baths, face masks, expensive candles, or luxurious spa days. While these can feel relaxing, there is a lot more to self-care, especially to help keep your mental health in check.
Genuine self-care is about committing to choices in your best interest, even when they are actions you don’t feel like taking at the moment. It’s about pausing and getting in tune with the needs of your body and mind and advocating for yourself. There are several types of self-care, and you may not relate all of them to mental health, but the mind-body connection shows the intricate impact your physical and psychological well-being have on each other.
Take note if you are neglecting any of the following self-care areas:
Emotional Self-Care: This kind of self-care focuses on being mindful of and handling our emotional states, whether they’re easy emotions or more challenging ones. This is fundamental to reaching greater emotional resilience and mental stability.
Physical Self-Care: As the name suggests, this type of self-care encompasses everything that affects your physical well-being, recognizing that a healthy body (inside and out) is essential for overall health and quality of life.
Financial Self-Care: Your financial health and how you handle your finances can really impact your mental health. Financial Self-care is about actions keeping you as financially stable as possible.
Personal Self-Care: This self-care method focuses on your interests and activities that bring you pure joy. It’s about ensuring that you dedicate time to hobbies and interests that amplify your personal fulfillment.
Space Self-Care: This self-care category concentrates on your physical environment. Your surroundings impact your mental well-being greatly. The importance of crafting a space that feels like ‘you’ shouldn’t be ignored. You need it to feel safe, comforting, and relaxing, giving you a true sanctuary from the world.
Social Self-Care: With a focus on social connections and relationships, this self-care type ensures you aren’t neglecting the power of community and the feeling of belonging.
Spiritual Self-Care: Spiritual self-care hones in on the beliefs and morals that provide you with purpose and fulfillment. This could be through religion or even personal reflection and will look slightly different for everyone. It’s about nurturing what intrinsically brings a deep-seated meaning to your life.
Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care
Prioritizing self-care means committing to improving your present state of being while simultaneously supporting your mental health of your future self. Sometimes it can feel scary to do if you aren’t used to advocating for yourself, and that’s ok. It takes courage, but it will start to feel more in your comfort zone with practice. When you take care of your needs, you are blessed with unmistakable benefits:
✓ Amplified Emotional Resilience: You become more emotionally resilient each time you observe, understand, and handle your emotions. Your bandwidth for facing life’s challenges will continue to grow.
✓ Closer Bonds and Relationships: When you prioritize self-care for your mental health, you avoid projecting negative thoughts onto those around you. The lighter and happier feelings can deepen your connections and relationships.
✓ Boosted Productivity: When your mind is well-taken care of, it becomes more focused and efficient, enhancing your ability to perform effectively in work or personal projects.
✓ Greater Self-Awareness: Regular self-care is instrumental in promoting greater self-awareness. This heightened understanding of triggers and reactions is essential for meeting your needs effectively, leading to better overall mental health.
✓ Heightened Ingenuity: When your mind is relaxed and well-cared for, it is more open to imaginative thinking and can generate more creative, innovative ideas.
Integrating self-care into your everyday ritual is not just an action of self-love but a valuable approach to living a balanced life that you absolutely love.
The Mental Health Impact of the Holidays
While cheerful and joyous, the festive season can also be interlaced with its own challenges. These heightened emotional states make prioritizing self-care even more elementary in order to avoid burnout, anxiety, or depression. We want you to ring in the new year set up for health success. Skip taking care of yourself could result in:
Elevated Stress: The festive season often heightens stress due to the hustle of getting ready and the demands of social engagements. This stress elevates cortisol levels in your body, triggering reactions such as fight, flight, freeze or fawn responses.
Disrupted Health Habits: The holiday season frequently disrupts usual routines, affecting essential health habits like our sleep, physical activity, and diet. This disruption can make it hard to resume your regular wellness routines when the holiday ends or even leave you feeling disappointed for straying too far from your health goals.
Emotional Strain: For many, the festive period brings up complicated feelings, from delight to nostalgia and even grief. It is a period when your high emotions are very high, and your low emotions can feel overwhelmingly low.
Economic Strain: The stress related to financial matters is frequently an overlooked source of trauma. Expenses for presents, travel, meals, party clothing, and holiday decorations can create a huge financial pressure that can deteriorate your mental health. This may leave you concerned about starting off the year with money problems.
Physical Exhaustion: It’s not uncommon to walk away from the holidays feeling burnout. Long hours of holiday prep, hunting for the perfect presents, or a jam-packed social schedule can leave you feeling a deep mental and physical fatigue, making it even more difficult to include healthy actions in your routine.
Nutrition Slips: Maintaining a balanced diet becomes more difficult with limited-time meals and treats everywhere you look. When one day of treats turns into another, and another since Thanksgiving (it’s not uncommon!), you’ll feel sluggish, distended, and foggy.
Little ‘You’ Time: Everyone needs time to themselves. The emphasis on social events and festive prep typically leaves minimal chances for rest and reflection. For those who need alone time to recharge, it can take a more considerable toll on your mental health.
With the roller coaster of emotions the holidays bring, taking the steps to nurture and care for ourselves is essential to making the most of this special time of year.
Mental Health Self-Care Tips for the Holidays
You don’t have to carve out hours of time during the holidays to prioritize your mental health. Any progress is still progress, so taking baby steps is perfectly okay here! If you are feeling overwhelmed, aim for even 10 minutes a day. Choose the self-care tips that speak the most to you and your lifestyle:
Start the Day off Right
Life looks a little different during the holidays, so create a custom routine that’s realistic for the time period. Your goal here should be to tackle chores, obligations, or daily goals early. This approach reduces procrastination and sets a productive mood for the day.
Pro tip: Aim for a consistent wake-up time to support your circadian rhythm!
Maintain Good Nutrition
Don’t pressure yourself to deny some nostalgic holiday treats, but don’t skip eating balanced meals, either. Keep your focus on whole foods, staying hydrated (half your body weight in ounces per day), and the 80/20 rule.
During the holidays, consider taking vitamins and supplements if you don’t already (We can help you with this!) They can be a fantastic way to sustain your nutritive needs when you might have filled up too quickly on nutrient-lacking treats.
Don’t Skip Sleep
Ensure you get 7-10 hours of sleep each night. Your body relies on this rest time to remove toxins, repair, rejuvenate, and store your memories. All too often, sleep is compromised when we are anxious or you’ve skipped ‘you’ time. Not getting enough sleep impacts your mental and physical health an incredible amount.
Need some help? We’ve got you covered!
You can elevate your mood by keeping your blood pumping! It doesn’t have to be miles of running or a high-intensity workout to be beneficial. Even a brisk walk or yoga will release endorphins and boost your mental health.
Tech and social media can be excellent tools for maintaining connections, but they can also create disconnections with your loved ones who are with you face to face. Not only that, but it’s common to see and compare other holiday highlight reels or be tempted to sneak in a few work emails. All of which can nose-dive our mental health during a time you should be enjoying. Aim to Turn off your notifications or screens away so you can show up more mindfully to each moment.
Transform your holiday this year into one that nurtures your mental health. Rejuvenate, enjoy, and recharge.
Wake up each day with intent to take care of yourself before all else. It’s not selfish; it is necessary to turn each moment into one of deeper connection. You’ll avoid slowly chipping away at your mental health and ring in the new year as your healthiest, happiest self!