4 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health During the Holidays

4 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us and like everything else in 2020, things may look different than what we're used to. Combined with social gathering restrictions related to COVID-19 across Canada, the entire situation can very well affect our mental health and overall wellbeing.

While it's common to feel stressed, anxious or other due to the pandemic and upcoming holidays, it’s important, more than ever, to seek emotional support. With this in mind, below are four different ways you can prioritize self care:

1) Schedule time to rest & relax

Whether you're working from home, the office or both, ensuring you get enough rest is the key to staying energized every day. One way to make time is to stick to your regular work schedule as much as possible. For individuals working from home, having a dedicated workspace and relaxation space is ideal. If that's not possible, ensure to put away your work materials at the end of the day. Out of sight, out of mind!

Another way to relax is through quality sleep. Getting seven hours of sleep or more each night is the recommended duration for adults, though this varies per person. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule or establishing one is best to guarantee those precious hours. You can always pair that schedule with relaxing activities like facial treatments, aromatherapy, arts & crafts, music and reading.

For those moments where stress and anxiety are taking over, you can try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique that calls on your five senses, box breathing exercises or a meditation app like Headspace.

2) Navigate challenging emotions

As humans, we naturally feel sadness and grief during life-changing events. During the pandemic, this can include loneliness and the death of a loved one. To cope with these feelings, it's necessary to be mindful of your emotions and process the triggers associated with them. Triggers can be anything from the smell of food, pictures or a song.

Talking to someone you trust is a good method to vocalize and identify emotions. Also, pay attention to any sudden mood shifts and different patterns in your behaviour, and avoid the urge to bottle up, ignore or hide your true feelings.

If you don't have anyone you can talk to, consider seeking help from a counsellor or therapist. You can find registered professionals on Psychology Today and Black Therapist List. Additionally, CAMH compiled a list of resources to help support your mental health during the pandemic.

Working with a therapist has many benefits like improving your ability to assess and manage life-altering circumstances.

3) Focus on being emotionally present

Human beings are social beings. Naturally, it's tough to imagine not being surrounded with loved ones on special occasions. Whether for government restrictions or health reasons, don't be afraid to say no if it doesn't feel safe to attend or host traditional gatherings. 

If anything, COVID-19's impact can inspire new and creative traditions. For example, why not organize a remote fashion show for your next 'ugly sweater' contest and watch movies together on Netflix Party from a safe distance? Or perhaps host a virtual game night that includes a fun game like Jeopardy using custom themes? 

As long as your friends and family feel heard and included, nothing can stop you from creating meaningful and connected moments.

4) Simplify gift shopping

What is the greatest gift of life? Some may say peace, happiness, family and love and they just might be on to something. Equally important is self-love because you can only do your best when you feel at best.

A nice way to treat yourself is by gifting yourself an item or experience that makes you feel good and loved. Yes, get that treat for dessert or deliver yourself a bouquet, because you deserve all the energy you pour into other people.

When it comes to gift shopping this holiday, stick to a budget that makes sense for your situation. Then, try to purchase intentional and purposeful gifts for your loved ones. Remember, if you are unable to do so, that's also completely fine. You can send holiday cards or opt for artisanal goods.

During the pandemic, some businesses have thrived while others are struggling to keep their head above water. To support them, make it a point to buy from local businesses.

Finally, avoid stocking up on unnecessary items, especially during sales. Practice mindfulness by specifically buying what you need.

Between these four self care tips, remember to apply what feels best for you in order to fully appreciate and find meaning in this holiday season.

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