The holidays are a time of giving and joy when we surround ourselves with good cheer, good food, and the presence of our loved ones.
But not everything is merry and bright, and this year that’s especially true. With many of us unable to see our families and friends over the holidays, you wouldn’t be alone in feeling like 2020 will be a Blue Christmas.
How to Maintain Your Mental Health Through the Holidays
So how can you make it into 2021 with your head held high? We’ve got a few ideas.
1. Embrace Emotions (Yes, All of Them)
Maintaining your mental health over the winter holidays might seem intimidating. After all, how can you celebrate after the year we’ve just had? First thing’s first: know that you don’t need to celebrate. A celebration is a joyous event, but don’t blame yourself if you’re not in a particularly ‘holly jolly’ mood. You are allowed to feel down, and you are under no obligation to pretend everything is fine.
It’s okay if you’re feeling sad, anxious, or even a little angry; your emotions are powerful and valid. The key is to acknowledge that you are experiencing these emotions and then do your best to release them. Let yourself feel them, but don’t dwell on them. You don’t have to feel happy, but it’s best not to stew in misery, either.
2. Maintain Normalcy
Christmas might feel like the perfect time to toss routine out the window and throw caution to the wind with excessive eating, drinking, oversleeping, and overspending. It’s a time of excess, but you can have too much of a good thing. It’s okay to indulge! But don’t let Christmas become a total free-for-all. Not only will it leave you feeling bloated, headachy, and financially pinched, but it can also set you up for a brutal post-Christmas letdown.
Counter the seasonal excess by getting adequate rest. Balance out your diet of baked goods with a portion of vegetables. Drink water, not just booze, and try to get a decent bit of exercise each day. In short, maintain some semblance of routine over the holidays. Some habits are good!
3. Manage Expectations
Christmas isn’t a competition, and there is no set rulebook for how you should feel or behave. Don’t feel like you have to be in a good mood, decorate the whole house, or bake a zillion cookies just because everyone else is doing it. Everyone else is struggling in one way or another, so don’t be fooled by seemingly ‘perfect’ Christmas Instagram pictures. Comparison is the thief of joy.
People are going to celebrate differently this year. Maybe your friends’ entire family is in the same bubble, while your parents or siblings are stranded in another city. If you don’t get to spend Christmas as you usually would, try to remember that this year is unlike any other. The separations and limitations are not forever—but for this year, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
We know that Christmas just won’t be the same this year, but it’s just for now. In the meantime, take care of yourself, and remember that however you spend the holidays, 2021 is bound to bring a better, brighter year.