“Merry Christmas!” and “Happy holidays!” often carry connotations of cheeriness and joy. But sometimes, the holidays just aren’t as pleasant as these well-meaning season’s greetings imply. Dealing with all the stress that accompanies holiday parties, shopping, cooking and other preparations can take a serious toll on your wellbeing, and, if left unacknowledged, can lead to more serious problems like depression. As you prepare to face this holiday season, don’t neglect your psychological health. We borrowed a few handy tips from the Mayo Clinic and the Huffington Post to get you started on the path to a merrier, happier holiday.
1. Plan ahead. Make a to-do list, and set aside specific days to get everything done. Check off necessary ingredients as you’re grocery shopping to make sure you’ve got everything you need ahead of time – it will cut down on last-minute runs to the store and frantic, rushed gift purchases. Added bonus - it feels great to see a completed list!
2. Leave No Trace. Choose one room in your home and make it a point to completely clear that room of clutter each evening. Some find a perfectly clean kitchen sink gives them a sense of relief and almost everyone can agree, there's nothing better than a spotless bathroom to wake to each morning.
3. Just say no. You’re a hot commodity, we know. But there’s no reason to attend every party, to cook every one of your delicious, signature treats, or to volunteer every time an opportunity arises. Do what you can, but don’t be afraid to turn down an occasional invite when you know you don’t have time.
4. Acknowledge your feelings, and get help if you need it. It’s totally okay to be unhappy, and to express those feelings. If you are unhappy, though, it’s important that you take actions to manage those feelings. If you’re feeling lonely, seek out community, religious or social events, or volunteer your time to lift your spirits. Don’t let stress or depression progress without seeking out help.
5. Pay compliments. Take the time today to pay a thoughtful compliment to someone in your life. This could be that special co-worker who gets you through your day, your spouse, friend or child. Whoever the person may be, taking the time to tell them how great they are is sure to be the brightest part of your day and theirs.
6. Give yourself a break. Even 15 minutes of uninterrupted “me time” can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next task. Find something that helps you relax, like a nighttime walk, your favorite CD, or a few minutes of deep breathing and meditation.