As the holiday season approaches, you might be feeling anxious, stressed, excited, or a combination of all three—and that's completely normal. But no matter how many emotions you're feeling, it's important to pay extra attention to your mental health and physical health during the holidays.
Putting your mental health first can help you feel better and make healthy choices, especially if you're managing stress. Here's how to take care of your mental health during the holiday season so you can bring healthy habits into the new year and beyond.
1. Stick to a routine
Even if you don't usually stick to a routine, creating a routine for yourself can help the holidays feel less chaotic. Every day, make a little time for yourself first thing in the morning—whether that's five minutes or 20 minutes. Your routine might only be five minutes long to start, but even a few minutes of mindfulness can help. Use your quiet time to rehydrate, write in a journal, or stretch your body.
2. Spend some time outside
If the weather allows, spend some time outside walking around your neighborhood. Bundle up if it's cold and take some time to notice all of your surroundings. And try not to think about burning calories, tracking steps, or checking social media. Instead, just enjoy yourself.
3. Avoid digital clutter
If you're ordering gifts online, don't forget to unsubscribe from emails after finishing the order. Even though it's easy to opt-in, you'll save yourself the stress of future shopping promos and impulse buys by opting out.
4. Choose your decorations mindfully
Most of us have been accumulating holiday décor for years. Sometimes, our most meaningful decorations don't get a chance to stand out among the clutter. Instead of putting everything up, try decorating with only your favorite things. If you're feeling overwhelmed, donate the rest to enjoy a simpler holiday season.
5. Go on a social media detox
If you're feeling FOMO this holiday season, take a break from social media. Even when we don't think we're overdoing it with Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram, we usually don't realize how much time we're actually spending plugged in. In fact, Instagram recently announced a new tool, “Take A Break,” that allows users to set reminders in the app to pause from scrolling every 10, 20, 30 minutes.
Too much social media can contribute to mental health issues, anxiety symptoms, and a low mood, so if you're struggling with poor mental health, it's a good idea to disconnect for a while. Instead of scrolling, schedule some quality time with a close friend or family member, or dedicate some extra time to self-care.
6. Regift instead of buying new
Finding the perfect gift can feel draining. What's more, a national survey found that financial issues were one of the main reasons for mental health problems during the holiday season.
Instead of buying something new, find something meaningful to gift to your loved ones. Look for things you can pass on with love, whether that's your favorite book or dinnerware that sits in your cabinet.
7. Get creative
Our thoughts emotions can be all over the place during the holidays, and it may be tempting to bottle them all up. Instead of holding everything in, try to write it down, draw it out, or turn it into a creative project. Try to artistically express how you're feeling and what's making you sad, happy, or stressed. Putting it on paper, canvas, or into music (as examples) can help clear your mind and make a positive change in your mental health.
8. Make time for yourself
If you're already feeling drained, consider a full stop. Sometimes, clearing your schedule isn't enough. Take a few days to yourself and promise to do nothing more than practice self-care.
9. Give back
There are so many opportunities to give back during the holiday season. Choose an organization close to your heart and give the way you want, whether that's advocating for mental health awareness or donating to federal employees.
10. Reach out for support
The holiday season can be immensely stressful, which can exacerbate mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, substance abuse issues, and even physical health problems. If you're struggling with poor mental health, you don't have to do it alone.
At Charlie Health, we offer virtual intensive outpatient treatment for adolescents, young adults, and their families. If you or someone you love may need professional mental health support, don't hesitate to reach out for help. We're available 24/7 during this holiday season and beyond to answer any questions you might have and create an action plan for your recovery.