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How to take care of your mental health during the holidays

Dec. 19, 2017
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'Tis the season for Christmas carols, Hallmark movies, fuzzy socks, snow days, stuffy noses, and long nights celebrated with endless mugs of hot cocoa. It’s also the season for family vacations, unsolicited questions from Grandma, and long family “discussions” over politics and religion.

Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of year, but for many it is also the hardest. Even those who do not have a mental illness may find their mental health dwindling during this time of year. Here are a few ideas on how to maintain your mental health during this critical time.

1. Take Time-Outs

A childhood marked by one too many bouts of misbehaving left me with a negative view of the term “time out”. But recently I’ve been transforming the connotation of the phrase “time out” and instead embracing a few moments of alone time. Take your music, a book, and maybe even your favorite animal for a few minutes and take a moment to yourself. Your friends and family will miss you, of course, but in the end, they will appreciate your presence even more if you are able to be there and fully present.

2. Bring Snacks

In this day and age, I think we have all come to terms that that “hanger” is a very real thing. While I live in a first-world country, I am surprised by the number of times I find myself hangry and without food to eat. By bringing your own food you ensure that you will not find yourself in this forsaken situation.

3. Get (At Least) Enough Sleep

I hold the unpopular opinion that the best bedtime is an early bedtime. And, no, an extra cup of coffee in the morning is not equivalent to an extra hour of beauty sleep at night! Take one from Grandma, and try to hit the hay early tonight. Trust me: you and everyone around you will thank me tomorrow. 

4. Take One From The Kids

Kids seem to thrive this time of year. Maybe some of it has to do with sugar highs from candy canes, but I think they’re onto something. Engaging in kids’ crafts is a great way to destress and regather your brainpower. Grab a friend and (with their permission, of course) engage in a classic snowball fight. Who knows, maybe getting older really doesn’t make us any wiser.

There’s my blueprint for how to survive the holiday season with your mental health intact (however limited it may be after a busy school semester). But above it all, try to remember what makes this time of year so special for so many of us in the first place. Remember it’s the journey, not the destination.