Self-Care for the Holidays: Prioritize Your Mental Health this December

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The holiday season is thought to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for some people, it’s anything but. That’s not to say that the holidays aren’t filled with joy and excitement, but they often involve high expectations. Between shopping, cooking, cleaning, traveling, buying gifts, attending social functions and more, it’s easy to see how the average person can feel overwhelmed at Christmastime.

If you’re someone who is in recovery for a mental health or substance use disorder, the holidays can be even more stressful. You have to face these challenges without drinking or using drugs, and you may not have yet developed healthy coping strategies. Plus, there is plenty of temptation around the holidays, as many gatherings involve alcohol.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect your recovery and preserve your mental health. If you need additional support along the way, reach out to Spearhead Health. Our case management services can be tailored to your needs, ensuring you get the exact help and support you need during the holidays.

Know Your Priorities

You can’t possibly do everything over the holidays. Remember, every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. Carefully choose the events and social functions you plan on attending. You don’t want to overextend yourself, or put yourself in difficult situations. To help with this, you can write out your calendar for the month and pick your priorities.

Take a Break from Social Media

Spending too much time on social media can have a negative impact on your mental health. For one, it puts pressure on you to have the ‘perfect’ holiday. As you scroll through your news feed, you end up comparing your real life to what you’re seeing online. Too much time on social media can also cause you to experience FOMO. Limit your time to just 30 minutes a day for better mental health.

Set Realistic Expectations

Be careful with having high expectations for the holidays, as they can lead to disappointment. Instead of trying to force things, let them happen naturally. Sometimes, people are so attached to their expectations, they can’t see the reality of the situation. The thing is, the holidays are filled with lots of people and events, and you can’t control them all. Adjust your expectations and realize that your holidays will be special no matter what.

Slow Down and Breathe

Multitasking is something that the majority of people do during the holidays, but it’s important not to get sucked into it. Try shifting your attention to what you’re doing at the moment, whether it’s drinking hot tea or folding laundry. This has a calming effect, as your brain can only focus on one task at a time. Practicing meditation or deep breathing can also help you relax in the moment.

Get Movement and Fresh Air

It can be more difficult to get exercise in the winter, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Get outdoors and move your body. Movement gets the blood flowing, brings your attention to the present moment and releases feel-good endorphins in the brain. If you can’t get outdoors, turn on some music and dance around your home. Physical activity also gives you an outlet to release stress.

Follow Your Aftercare Plan

Now is not the time to change up your routine. Continue following your aftercare plan, including eating meals on time, getting consistent sleep and making time for self-care. Also stay connected to your support network and continue attending your self-help groups. When you’re stressed and tired, it’s easier to fall back into old habits.

By following the above tips, you can prioritize your mental health over the holidays and enjoy the season to the fullest. If you need support along the way, Spearhead Health is here for you.