Mental Health Tips for the Holidays

As the holidays approach, it’s a great time to think about how to maintain your mental health, particularly as a working mom. The holidays are fun for some, fraught for others, and may bring up many emotions and stressors. There is lots of pressure for the holidays to be a joyous time (particularly for parents) and there may be a tendency to push through and fake it till you make it. However; there are some things you can do to prepare for however the holidays may look for you. Here are some tips and tricks from a Family Therapist (me!).

You know how when you’re on a plane and the flight attendants go through all the emergency procedures and they talk about what happens when the cabin loses pressure? An oxygen mask will come down and they advise any passenger with children to put their oxygen mask on first before helping their kids. The same is true in our day to day lives, but especially during the holidays. Taking care of yourself is key. Maybe that looks like setting an alarm to take your vitamins, supplements, medications, etc. because remembering to do that in the coming months is harder. That could also look like continuing to make movement a priority. Or taking PTO so you can have an afternoon to yourself. And while you are reading this, I’m going to remind you to hydrate so take some sips of water, take a couple of deep breaths and loosen up those shoulders.

There, that’s better.

This may also include taking stock in what is important to you and your family this holiday season. This particular one right here may look a lot different in the past and that’s ok. We’ve all had that experience the past two years. Is it important to have lots of gifts? Is it important to have minimal gifts? Is it important to have a big meal with lots of friends and family? Is it important to get takeout and be with just a couple of people? Maybe you’re sending out holiday cards in the mail or maybe you are sending out an email card? Or maybe not sending anything at all.

Communicate with your partner on what activities you want to take part in and which you do not. Prioritize what is important for you and your family and create a plan based on that. I also advise the couples and parents I see to talk about their boundaries for getting together with family and having each other’s backs. Meaning if your uncle starts bringing up politics or your in law starts criticizing your parenting, devise a way to change the subject.

If you experience grief, loss, and loneliness during the holidays schedule out appointments with your therapist and/or support groups/faith community. Keep connected to your supports. Many of my clients express to me that they don’t want to burden friends or family around the holidays but you are not a burden. More often than not your loved ones want to hear from you and help you.

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