The holiday season can be a wonderful time. Families are reunited, parties are thrown, meaningful gifts are exchanged and there is an abundance of delicious food available. But to someone prone to stress and anxiety, or anyone with a mental illness, the holidays can be terribly triggering and can lead to some unhealthy behaviors. It’s very important to form healthy habits, both for our physical and mental health, that carry us through the holiday season.
First, if you have an eating disorder or an anxiety disorder brought on by large groups, contact a counseling center for an appointment. Discuss your anticipation of the holidays with your mental health therapist. They will help you prepare for and get through any tough moments or uncomfortable interactions.
Focus on your personal goals for your time with your loved ones during the holidays. Think of your emotional, spiritual and relationship goals. You’ll want to spend plenty of time with the people you rarely get to see, but don’t overbook yourself. If you avoid going to unnecessary events, you will lower your stress levels and be less likely to resort to any disordered behaviors. Just do what you can and give yourself downtime to rest and recover.
As you’re shopping for holiday gifts and party food, stick to a budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with a pile of gifts, and don’t buy more than you can afford. This will also help keep your stress levels low. You can always treat your family to homemade gifts or start a family white elephant gift exchange.
Take good care of yourself physically. Eat healthy food whenever possible to balance out all those unhealthy party treats. Get some exercise when you can and drink plenty of water. The holidays tend to be a time of sleep deprivation, but make sure you get plenty of rest. The more physically healthy you are, the better you can take charge of your mental health.
At some point during the holiday festivities, you may have to face someone with whom you have a toxic relationship. This can be a parent, another relative or even an estranged spouse. To avoid any negative interactions, set healthy boundaries. Let the person know there will be a time limit on how long you can see them (saying you have a meeting in thirty minutes, for example). Keep conversations brief. Have an exit strategy, like an emergency phone call or errand, you can use if the person tries to start a confrontation. Keep your distance from them physically, using your body language to let them know to stay away.
If you have any serious concerns about the holidays and your mental health, contact a Orange County therapist. Behavioral therapy and medication may be recommended depending on your current situation. By forming healthy habits, you can enjoy the holiday season.