Everywhere you look lately, there seems to be societal pressure to have a “perfect” or “joyful” holiday season. On social media, it seems like everyone has a close family, a lot of friends and amazing plans for the holidays. However, the reality is that the holidays are never perfect, and many people struggle or spend time alone and are isolated during the holiday season.
While it is ok to feel joy and delight during this time, it is ok to feel sad and lonely right now as well – it’s ok not to be ok. The thing is, talking about not feeling ok, especially during this time of year, is seldom celebrated or encouraged. How freeing would it be if we were more open about our feelings and truly listened to each other especially to those who are struggling or alone? So, during this holiday season, see if you can be mindful of those who may suffer quietly, a neighbor, a co-worker, a passerby and see how you can extend some support even with the simplest of gestures – sharing a smile, asking how someone is doing and taking a few moments to truly listen to and see them.
Whether you are feeling joyful or sorrowful or even a mix of both this season, be sure to note the following tips on how to take care of your mental health and well-being during the holiday season.
Self-care should be a significant priority right now, and yet it can feel most elusive. Taking care of the basics such as getting enough rest, relaxation, good nutrition and movement is essential. And see if you can take some extra time to pamper yourself or treat yourself to something that you may have been putting off. Remember that there is a fine line between isolating yourself and needing alone time – alone time should feel replenishing, so if your alone time starts to feel stressful or painful, it is time to reach out to someone.
Honor Your Losses
If you are grieving the loss of loved ones, sometimes finding special ways to honor them during the holiday season can help. This can include carrying on certain traditions you shared with them, lighting a candle for them, or writing a letter to them. While you may be concerned that honoring them will bring up feelings of sadness, we need to feel the feelings of sadness and grief to get through it rather than pushing it down and hoping it goes away. Pace yourself and garner support when opening yourself up to the pain.
Limit Time on Social Media
If social media helps you feel connected with other people and boosts your mood, that’s great! However, for many, endless scrolling through others’ happy photos and stories on social media can heighten feelings of sadness and isolation. If that is the case for you, try limiting your time on social media. Set a time limit for yourself, use a timer or alarm and obey the beep! When your time is up, close your social media apps and focus on something that brings you joy.
Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering during the holidays is one of the best ways to help yourself heal and feel connected to others while helping others. Helping others is also a way we can contribute to causes bigger than ourselves; whether it’s preparing meals for others, helping at an animal shelter or supporting a toy drive. Even if you are ambivalent about being around other people, volunteering can expand your self-in-world-view and widen your perspective. By seeing others’, offering to help meet those needs, and taking part in a benevolent effort, feelings of peace and connectivity can grow.
Be Mindful of Your Physical Health
Movement is essential to well-being. Physical exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous to be beneficial. Staying active and connected to your body through gentle stretches, low-impact movements or taking a stroll outside is just as important as, say going for a hike or a run. Physical exercise and time in nature can improve mental and emotional health so make sure to take good care of your body.
One of the best things you can do right now is to reach out to someone, even if you feel like it is the last thing you want to do. Depression and grief can be isolating and can make you think you are a burden on people. Remember, you are anything but a burden to others. In fact, people want to hear from you.
The holidays can be a challenging time for many. If you feel that your symptoms are becoming increasingly overwhelming, reach out to a mental health professional for help. At BHAVA Therapy Group, our caring and dedicated therapists can provide you with the necessary therapeutic support and skills needed. Contact us today.