Holiday stress can be damaging to your mental health and bring challenges to your recovery. During the holiday season, be mindful of your stress levels. You might have to scale back your celebration or take a short break from the holiday celebration if you are feeling overwhelmed. Your mental health must be prioritized over holiday traditions. If holiday traditions are important to you, consider rescheduling them when you’ll be better able to manage your mental health needs.
Managing Holiday Stress
The stress of the holidays can worsen your mental health symptoms. It can make you feel fatigued, fuel your anxiety, and affect your mood. However, you can mitigate holiday stress by taking care of yourself. Don’t add stress to your plate by eating unhealthily, not getting enough sleep, or ignoring your physical or mental health needs. It’s important to be especially mindful during the holiday season.
Make sure to take time to check in with yourself. When you find yourself feeling aggravated, use HALT, a self-reflection tool, to find out if you are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Whatever the conclusion of your emotional assessment may be, you must accept your feelings and react accordingly. Be prepared to set your holiday errands aside to take care of your mental health. Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to perfect the art of decorating or gift-getting. It’s okay to be a “grinch” and opt out of holiday celebrations if you need some time to heal.
Setting Boundaries With Relatives
Your traditions with your friends and family create holiday expectations. While tradition can foster connection, it can also fuel stress. Some traditions take time, like making a favorite holiday dish. Others take money, like going to see the Nutcracker or another holiday play. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the holidays, you might have to scale back some holiday traditions, even if it disappoints your relatives.
Your family might be understanding of your holiday stress and need to pull back on certain holiday traditions. Some family members may offer to help mitigate your stress, while others might feel the same holiday pressure and be thankful that you spoke up. If your relatives aren’t as accepting, you’ll have to be adamant about your decision. Set a boundary of what traditions you do and don’t have the time and emotional energy to participate in. You can suggest moving a celebratory holiday tradition to a different time of year, so you and your family members don’t have to miss out on it completely.
Take a Break Away From Holiday Stress
You are not required to dedicate the entire month of December to celebrate the holiday. Allow yourself to take a break from wrapping gifts, searching for recipes, and hanging up decorations. Plan a few days of the month to be self-care days. You can use these self-care days to focus on your mental and physical health needs. For instance, if you’re feeling lethargic, you might prioritize your self-care day for exercising. Maybe you feel discombobulated from all the holiday activities and want to use your self-care day to organize your calendar.
Sometimes a self-care day means practicing relaxation. Take the time to meditate so you can process any feelings that you may have been pushing aside due to the holiday rush. Guided meditations can help you relax both your body and mind. It can help you focus on your thoughts one at a time, making them easier to process. Yoga and meditation also lend themselves to the practice of mindfulness. Be present with yourself, others, and your surroundings. On your self-care day, do something that will bring you joy, like reading your favorite book by an open fire or watching your favorite movie with a cup of hot chocolate.
Simplify the Elaborate
Your tree doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s okay to scale back your decorations, schedule, and the number of gifts your buy. You don’t need to outdo yourself every holiday. Stay within your financial, emotional, and physical means. Don’t be afraid to repeat a holiday sweater, skip your work holiday party, or tighten your budget for gifts.
Consider putting up a smaller tree this year or a holiday wreath instead. Allow yourself to use some shortcuts in your holiday cooking. Not everything has to be from scratch. You can also delegate some holiday tasks to other people who will be celebrating with you. For example, you can simplify gift wrapping by using reusable gift bags. The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy to spend with your loved ones. If you spend the holiday stressing out about the details, you will be too stressed to participate in the holiday celebration meaningfully.
It’s important to have relaxation techniques and emotional management tools on hand for the holiday season. You have to prioritize your mental health to maintain a successful recovery. Restoration Recovery Center can teach you the skills you need to mitigate holiday stress. We offer modalities such as yoga and meditation, which can be useful tools for managing stress. We understand that all of our patients are complex individuals, and we will work with you to create a treatment plan specific to your needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, please call (888) 290-0925 to learn how we can help you achieve long-term sobriety through treatments that focus on the body, mind, and spirit.