The holidays often challenge our ability to manage time, stress, and interpersonal relationships. Below are a few tips to get through it all in a mentally healthy way:
Impacts of Reduced Daylight
The fall/winter seasons are characterized by reductions in daylight. While the days feel shorter our maneuvering our day-to-day lives continue giving the illusion of limited time. Physiologically, shorter days also impact our circadian rhythms which regulate important functions such as mood or sleep/ wake cycles. Some studies suggest using light therapy as an effective solution though there have been some side effects reported so it is always important to consult with your doctor first.
Know Your Stressors and Have a Plan to Manage Them
There are various stressors that can occur during the holidays. For some there often are concerns of financial stress as many travel to be with family, may host family, or engage in gift-giving practices. For many, difficult family dynamics may also add to stress as many gather. Regardless of what your stressor may be, it is important to know your triggers and have a self-care plan. This plan should include:
- Knowing your boundaries. Predetermining a budget to avoid overspending or learning to say no to reduce the chances of you overbooking or overcommitting to fall/winter activities.
- Engaging in healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, engaging in mindfulness practices, or creating a bedtime routine to aid in restful sleep.
- Practicing assertive communication to honor how you feel or what your expectations are
- Seek support if you are triggered by the holidays, especially for those who may have had a recent loss, difficult family dynamics, or exacerbated mental health concerns, it is important to build a support system or reach out to a mental health professional for support.
Mariah Dookie is a licensed professional counselor and trauma-informed practitioner. She specializes in anxiety, stress management, body image issues, and perfectionism in adults.
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