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When It’s Not the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Tips for Cultivating Your Mental Health This Holiday Season

The holiday season is usually associated with good cheer, warm memories, and overall merriment. However, for many, the holidays are also a time of stress, worrying over finances associated with travel and gifts, anxiety-inducing family gatherings, or grieving the absence of loved ones who have passed away. 

In fact, 62% of people state their stress levels elevate during the holiday season. And 53 percent of people feel financially stressed by holiday spending, even though more than half of the 1,000 respondents had created spending budgets.

Don’t let the holidays weigh heavily on your shoulders. Instead, minimize anxiety and cultivate your mental health with these six tips:

  • Take a Deep Breath: Even with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is important to breathe. Whether you take a yoga class, go on a hike, or just meditate in your office or bedroom, being mindful of your breathing has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. 
  • Go Outside: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is linked with the lack of daylight. Prevent the winter blues by spending time outdoors. Need some ideas? Check out this list of healthy winter activities.
  • Keep Your Finances Under Control: To curb impulse shopping, make your list and check it twice before you hit the stores or go online for gifts. American Consumer Credit Counseling provides this holiday budget expense tracker to help you stay as close to your budget as possible.
  • Be Kind to Yourself: It’s okay to indulge in your favorite holiday treats, just do so in moderation. A glass of eggnog or piece of pie will not derail a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways to make healthier holiday choices.
  • Focus on what you enjoy and say no to some things: Being realistic about how much time and energy you have to share this holiday season will not make you the Grinch. Say “yes” to events or obligations that bring you joy and “no” to those that cause you stress. Don’t feel obligated to uphold family traditions that no longer fit. Find new ways to celebrate or create new traditions for your family.
  • Make Your Mental Health a Priority: If you find yourself dreading holiday family functions, here are five ways to optimize your mental wellness around family. Be sure to make time for quiet moments by yourself or with people you do enjoy. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give is time, so be selective who receives it!

Need more? The American Psychological Association provides a Holiday Stress Resource Center with more tips and resources to avoiding or minimizing holiday stress inducers. Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday season for all of us.

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