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Protecting Your Mental Wellbeing During the Holiday Season

When we think of the holiday season we're meant to associate the time with joyful moments - food, family, friends, fun... but it can also bring stress, sadness, and strain. Here are some ways to help manage the holiday stress to protect your mental wellbeing.

According to a 2018 study conducted, 88% of Americans feel stressed while celebrating the holidays. For a time of year meant for joy and celebration, what makes the months of November and December so notoriously stressful for so many across the U.S.?

The American Psychological Association found that more people in the United States find their stress increases during the holidays for a number of reasons. The biggest reason sought as a stressor is the lack of time; the holidays can feel like a whirlwind that comes and goes before you know it. In addition, lack of money, the pressure of giving or receiving gifts, the stress of family gatherings, and maintaining a healthy diet are all top reasons for increased levels of stress.

From overeating to managing a hectic schedule, here are some ways you can help protect your mental wellbeing this holiday season:

Take breaks and schedule that "me time".

Set aside time for yourself. Exercise, read, take a bubble bath, lounge around in your pjs - do whatever makes you happy. Time off can mean time for enjoying the simple pleasures that you find joy in. Sleep is also a crucial aspect that can hinder your mental health, so take the time to ensure you're getting the rest you need.

Find balance between being with others and being alone.

While scheduling that "me time"is important, it's equally as important to avoid isolating yourself completely. Don't have the energy or desire to attend that large holiday gathering this year? Rather than being alone, invite a couple people to join in on a more personal activity. If that isn't an option, plan something that you can do alone while also being around others, like going to a movie or volunteering.

Eat in moderation.

Turkey! Stuffing! Mashed potatoes! Eat ALL the things! Just do so in moderation. We all know how tempting it is to fill up a second (or third) plate of all those seasonal delicious foods, but the key to enjoying them and maintaining wellbeing is to maintain reasonable portion sizes and avoid overindulging. One way to ensure healthy eating is to fill two-thirds of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, the greener the better.

Start a new tradition.

Traditions help shape our identities and strengthen the bond between family members. Find ways you can do something positive with your loved ones. Take a walk around the neighborhood, volunteer at a soup kitchen, work together on making a family scrapbook. Whatever you decide, make it meaningful and yours.

Check that item off your holiday "to do" list... or remove it altogether!

If you feel overextended and like there's not enough time, take a moment to check items off your to do list. It's proven that taking the time to prioritize a list and check items off give a sense of organization and accomplishment. You can feel good about making progress. You can also let something go if it's adding to your stress level. Don't feel like sending holiday cards this year? Don't. Prioritize what is important to you.

Whatever your holiday season has in store, remember these 5 tips and to be thankful. The holidays are a time of reflection on what is good in our lives - there is always something to be thankful for.

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