Manage your emotional wellness during the holidays
Many of us have coped with uncertainty, tiredness, and alienation during the last two years. As the year draws to a close and the threat of the pandemic fades, many of us find ourselves fighting to maintain our mental health during the holidays once more. So, as the year 2021 draws to a close, how can you cope with Holiday stress?
The following are five tips:
1 – Make choices based on your core values.
You don’t always get to pick what happens to you or how you react in a world full of challenges both in and out of the job. Whether you’re celebrating with family or friends or on your own, this is especially true during the holidays.
You can, on the other hand, choose how to respond to events and feelings in a way that is consistent with your beliefs. Examine your emotions and make decisions that help you improve in line with your values this year, and use your values to guide your conduct rather than your emotions. Even if you have no control over the result of an incident, you will be proud of how you handled it in the end.
Keep in mind that emotions and values are not the same things. Values are components of life that you believe are important, and they have an impact on how you live and what you emphasize. Community, love, and friendship are examples of values, so you can act lovingly even if you’re dealing with Christmas stress. Take a minute when you’re feeling overwhelmed to recall how you want to be–for example, keeping calm and compassionate with your family as they argue over a meal, regardless of whether you feel calm and compassionate yourself. This is a value-based decision.
2 – Choose beliefs that will aid you.
Our thoughts fill in the spaces with concern when we don’t know what the future holds, which is a natural reaction to the uncertainty that comes with a lack of information.
Unfortunately, oftentimes worry doesn’t actually serve the worrier. For example, you might be concerned about your vaccinated children acquiring COVID on the journey home from college around Thanksgiving, but you’ve addressed the risk with them and determined as a family that you’re willing to take the risk. Although it’s reasonable to be concerned about this condition, it doesn’t change their risk of infection. That’s why, as anxiety rises, it’s critical to pay attention to what’s going on in your head and notice the thoughts that arise.
Slow down and ask yourself three critical questions before you let anxiety take over and start treating those thoughts as facts:
- What evidence do you have for and against your concern?
- What is the point of your anxiety?
- What is a more productive way of thinking?
Answering these questions might help you stay in the present moment and reframe your worries into positive thoughts. If, for example, you’re concerned that you’ll be trapped indoors this winter, surrounded by the gloom and dread of the chilly months, answering the questions above can help you transform that concern into something more constructive. “This winter may be more difficult, but it’s only temporary,” you may remind yourself. “I aim to get outside when the weather permits and find methods to stay entertained and connected to others.”
3 – Acceptance should be practiced.
We often think to ourselves, “This wasn’t intended to happen,” or “I shouldn’t have to deal with yet another thing,” when confronted with an undesired scenario or behavior–for example, relatives being unhappy that you won’t visit for the holidays because they aren’t COVID-19 vaccinated. We often desire that people might act in ways that benefit us.
The truth is that we have no control over other individual choices, so the best you can do when faced with situations that make it difficult to manage your mental health during the holidays is to take a step back, understand the situation for what it is, and make decisions based on reality and your values. Address the following questions to yourself:
- What do you have control over in this situation?
- What can you do to make yourself feel better?
Remember that you can’t control your emotions, and you shouldn’t want to, because emotions represent the truth of your internal situation and serve adaptive purposes. You can, however, regulate how you react to your emotions. Remember that guilt generates unnecessary suffering, but acceptance allows emotions to ebb and flow, ending the battle.
Consider these mindfulness-based strategies to develop acceptance:
- Concentrate your attention on the present moment.
- Observe a situation without trying to change it. Notice your emotions and how they feel in your body.
- Feelings aren’t “correct” or “bad,” they’re just feelings.
4 – Prioritize your wellness.
The more hectic life becomes, the more important it is to prioritize self-care. Holiday seasons can make it harder to take care of ourselves since they break our routine and influence our mood.
Self-care is defined as a set of activities that can boost your energy and motivation while also increasing your stress resilience. It counts as a self-care practice if you know that your 10-minute morning coffee routine will help you generate the energy to get the house ready to host Thanksgiving dinner.
Self-care isn’t about luxury or extravagance; rather, it’s about doing the simplest but most important things to promote your emotional and physical wellness. The following are some of the fundamentals:
- Defining parameters
- Taking time off (including paid time off)
- Hobbies and interests are a great way to pass the time.
- Taking good care of your diet
- Getting the proper quantity of sleep and of good quality
Even though holiday stress can throw these routines off, it’s critical to keep to a self-care routine. To improve your self-care, make sure to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals. When it comes to your self-care goals, ask yourself the following questions:
- What specific steps will you take to look after yourself?
- What metric of accountability will you use to track your self-care progress?
- What is an acceptable objective for self-care?
- What is the significance of it?
- What is the action’s time frame?
“I’m going to run for at least 20 minutes between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays each week to match my fitness value,” says one SMART self-care goal.
5 – Participate on your own terms.
It’s essential to connect with family members in a way that is both realistic and achievable while also being non-harmful. Don’t feel obligated to compare your reality to fantasies like Hallmark movies, your Facebook feed, or Holiday greeting cards while doing so. If you’re worried about the possibility of conflict when you interact with family and friends, remember to take the following steps:
- Instead of seeking agreement, seek mutual understanding.
- Reassure your intentions: For example, if your parents press you to visit despite the COVID risk, tell them that you love them and want to spend time with them, but only in a safe manner.
- Request permission to offer counter-information: If you’re having a disagreement with a family member about their fears about the COVID vaccine, for example, ask, “Can I share some credible and valuable information with you?”
- Validate the feelings of the other person.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt: Is someone’s “selfish” or “ignorant” behavior, for example, really a reflection of their loneliness or fear? Empathy should come first in your conversation.
- Maintain clear boundaries and avoid putting others’ demands ahead of your own: “I respect that you feel differently, but this is the decision I’ve made for myself,”.
Maintaining emotional wellness over the holidays can be difficult, especially following the events of the previous two years. Remember not to let your need for perfection get in the way of having a nice time. The holidays don’t have to be stressful or pressure-filled, and they may even be enjoyable if you follow this emotional wellness advice throughout the holidays.