CICS Newsletter: December 2017
Taking Care of Your Mental Health Through the Holidays
The holidays are here, and with that comes all the festivities we’ve come to embrace. Today we live in a world of non-stop, on-the-go movement. Relaxing and enjoying the season has become a little more difficult due to the stress of everyday life. Protecting our mental health is imperative in making it through the holidays. Even in non-holiday times of the year, a recent Stress in America survey showed 24 percent of adults report extreme stress and more than a third of adults report their stress increased over the past year. The American Psychological Association provides a few tips to remind us how to handle stress over the holidays.
Take time for yourself: You may feel pressured to be everything to everyone. But remember that you’re one person and can only accomplish certain things. Sometimes self-care is the best thing you can do — others will benefit when you feel less stressed. Reflect on aspects of your life that give you joy. Go for a long walk, get a massage or take time to listen to your favorite music or read a new book. All of us need some time to recharge our batteries. Be mindful and focus on the present rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future.
Volunteer: Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter, that needs volunteers and offer to help. Alternatively, participate in a community giving tree or an adopt-a-family program. Helping others may lift your mood and help you put your own struggles in perspective.
Have realistic expectations: No holiday celebration is perfect. View inevitable missteps as opportunities to exercise your flexibility and resilience. A lopsided tree or a burned brisket won’t ruin your holiday — it will create a family memory. If your children’s wish list is outside your budget, talk to them about realistic expectations and remind them that the holidays aren't about expensive gifts.
Remember what's important: The barrage of holiday advertising can make you forget what the season is really about. If your expense list is running longer than your monthly budget, scale back and remind yourself what matters most is loved ones, not presents, elaborate decorations or gourmet food.
Healthy conversations: Let your family know this season is a time to express gratitude and give thanks for what you all have, including each other. If there is worry about heated disagreements or negative conversations, focus on what you and your family have in common. Families might even plan activities that foster fun and laughter, like playing a family game or looking through old photo albums.
Seek support: Talk about your worries and concerns with close friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings and work toward a solution.
May all of you have a wonderful holiday season!
Patti Treibel Leeds, CICS Hamilton County
Thanks to psychologist Mary Alvord, PhD, Michi Fu, PhD and David Palmiter, PhD, who assisted with this article.