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Holiday Hustle and Bustle? 8 tips for managing mental wellness during the holidays

Holiday mental wellness
The holiday season can be a joyful and exciting time of year. For many people, it can also create increased stress, and feelings of depression and anxiety. The added pressures of extra travelling, socializing, late nights, busy schedules, financial strain and the quest to find the perfect gift can really take a toll. For those who have lost loved ones or are going through relationship challenges, the season can also be a trigger for grief and feelings of loss. These stresses, along with all the other demands of daily life can definitely impact an individual’s mental health.

This holiday season, Interlake-Eastern RHA is encouraging the region’s residents to give themselves and their loved ones the gift of putting mental wellness first. To help you give the gift that truly keeps on giving, here are eight top tips for a mentally healthier and more balanced holiday season:

BUDGET: Set a limit on your holiday spending and stick to it. Spending can get out of hand during the holidays, putting unnecessary strain on households.Think of alternative ways to give that don’t cost as much, like making gifts from the kitchen or decluttering by giving items that have special meaning to someone who would appreciate them.

DIAL DOWN THE DRAMA: Spending time with family and friends is important during the holidays but it can also create conflict and fatigue. The guilt of wanting to please family and friends can often make people promise to do more than they feel capable of handling. Maybe choose ONE family to visit each season instead of all your friends and relations. Set time limits on the length you stay. Think about replacing all those visits by reaching out over the phone to spread holiday cheer

GET YOUR REST: The buzz and excitement of holiday parties can be contagious but a string of late nights can make you tired, grumpy and less able to cope. Limit how late you stay out and take time to recharge your batteries with some rest.

DON’T OVERINDULGE: During the holidays it’s tempting to overindulge. So many opportunities to eat rich food and toast the season can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. The after-effects of those holiday drinks can also lead to increased feelings of depression, anxiety and mood swings. Be kind to yourself and set a goal to limit your consumption rather than avoiding indulgence entirely.

KEEP THINGS SIMPLE: Holiday plans can easily get out of hand and fast become a longer and longer “to do” list rather than a celebration. Consider what you can cut out of your plans to focus on what really matters. Cut back on your menu or baking and spend some quality time with family. Let others help and delegate some of your tasks. Forget the busy party schedule and give yourself permission for some much-needed alone time.

STAY ACTIVE: Winter is normally a time when people tend to be less active. With all the social commitments of the season, be sure to make plans that involve some physical activity and exercise. Take an evening stroll to look at the lights, start a snowball fight, organize a hockey game or go for a skate at the local rink. Being active over the holidays can be easy and fun too!

REACH OUT: For many people, the holidays create feelings of isolation and loneliness. If this is a concern for you, reach out. Talk to people about your feelings. Take up a winter hobby that allows you to socialize. Check the web for celebrations in your community. Volunteer at the community soup kitchen or offer to shovel snow for others who may need the help.

MAKE ROOM FOR LOSS: For those of us who have recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be very difficult. It’s hard to be grieving when everyone else is celebrating the season with friends and family.Acknowledge your grief and the fact that holidays won’t be the same. Reach out to those who have been through grief and share stories and support. Create new holiday traditions to honor the memory of loved ones like placing an ornament on one of our region’s memory trees.

Sometimes it can make all the difference to share feelings with a compassionate professional who can offer tools and ideas to improve mental health and wellness. The region has many free mental health  services and supports for adults, youth and children and older adults. You can find information on these and many other mental health resources at the Interlake-Eastern RHA’s Mental Health website. To learn more, visit: www.ierha.ca and click on Care in Your Community / Mental Health

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