The festive season, as joyous and wonderful as it is, can sometimes take its toll on our mental health. Decorating, shopping and Christmas parties when considered individually all seem like great activities (they are actually three of my favourite things to do!), but combine them all together into one short month, and try to maintain a normal work/life balance at the same time and you have a recipe for disaster that is almost as complicated as Nan’s Christmas pudding recipe!
To help maintain your sanity (and hopefully even enjoy this holiday season), here are some tips to help minimize stress, brought to you by Deb Albrecht, Director of the Berryhill Center for Mental Health:
- Eat a balanced diet and avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol. Don’t give in to temptation and overindulge, this can add to your stress and guilt.
- Plan regular exercise into you schedule. Exercise has been shown to increase levels of endorphins which are the body’s natural antidepressant.
- Volunteer with friends and family. Volunteering your time to help others is a great way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
- Keep expectations realistic. The holidays do not have to be perfect. Traditions and rituals often change over time so be open to new ways to celebrate.
- Stick to a budget. Don’t try to buy happiness. Donate your time to a charity or make homemade gifts.
- Be flexible and allow for changes in your plans. There are bound to be a few changes that occur such as guest that cannot attend an event. You may need to adapt to changes to accommodate others.
- Take time to pamper yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone without distraction may prove to be refreshing and increase your tolerance for other holiday events. Take a walk or listen to soothing music to help reduce your stress.
- Set aside differences, it is time to enjoy family and friends. Accept family and friends as they are even thought they may not live up to your expectations. Remember others are feeling the stress of the holidays as well. Try to be around positive people.
- Learn to say no. Friends and family will understand that you cannot participate in every event or activity.
- Remember, it is a wonderful life. Be grateful for the things that are going well in your life and enjoy the holiday season. Remember that the holiday season only last a few weeks but your mental health lasts a lifetime.