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5 Ways I'm Managing My Mental Health During the Holidays

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The holidays should be a fun and exciting time, but for some people, they can create sadness, stress and anxiety. Some people are out shopping for gifts, decorating their homes and spending time with family and friends. But for others, the holidays and winter months may be more difficult for many different reasons.

People may also experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter months, a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year (although, someone can experience SAD in any season).

No matter what side of the spectrum you are on, here are five things I’ve found helpful for managing my mental health during the holidays:

1. Set boundaries

This may sound simple, but it can be challenging to set boundaries, especially around the holiday season. But in order for you to be at your best and prevent burn out, I think it is important to be honest with yourself and others about what can and cannot do. This means saying no when you have too much on your plate, even though you may want to help someone. This also includes asking for help when you need it and taking time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate.

2. Stay active

The holidays are a time when many of feel more sluggish. Staying active does not have to include going to the gym if that is not your thing, but making small adjustments like playing games with your children that require you to move your body, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or trying a new class are great ways to start. Staying active can make you feel a bit better and motivate you in other areas of your life.

3. Essential oils

For those who prefer a holistic approach, essential oils might be for you. The benefits of essential oils are beyond amazing and there are plenty of oils that are excellent mood boosters. Some of my favorite oils include lavender, bergamot, and eucalyptus. Bergamot might help to stabilize overpowering emotions and provide mental clarity. Lavender can relax you, promoting a balanced mood and helping you sleep. Eucalyptus can be great for mental exhaustion, relieving muscle pain and guess what? If you tend to a cold during this this season, eucalyptus is the oil for you. These oils can be placed in a diffuser, rubbed on the affected area, or you can place a few drops in your bath water. When my anxiety or depression kicks in, I immediately take a bath with my oils and turn on my diffuser before I go to sleep and when I wake up I feel a shift in my mood.

4. Journaling

In my experience, journaling is so helpful, whether you have a mental illness or not. Journaling is a great way for you get your thoughts (good and bad) out on paper. If they are emotions or thoughts that make you feel bad, journaling might allow you to release those emotions. It is also an opportunity to write down things you want to accomplish and steps to accomplish them. Maybe you can write a letter to your loved one.

5. Spend time around people who lift your mood and decrease stress

The holidays are the perfect time to be around people you love, so spending time with them might cheer you up. Engage in activities that you enjoy with your family and friends to try and lower your stress level, reenergize yourself and give yourself the opportunity to be social. This can be a night out at the movies, a sleepover, or attending a comedy show. Whatever activities make you feel good, do just that. Have fun!

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Thinkstock photo via Rinky Dink Images 

Originally published: November 13, 2017
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