The Holiday Season is definitely my favorite time of the year. Growing up, this is what I was always looking forward to.
And truth be told, it wasn’t really about the number of presents that I get or how big the celebration was — it was always about the warm, comforting and peaceful feeling that comes along with it.
But last year was different, that familiar warm, comforting and peaceful feeling that I was always looking forward to was nowhere to be found.
You see, after losing someone very dear to me and then falling into the pit of depression, the holiday season (just like any other day) felt dark, empty and painful.
The holiday love and joy somewhat became a painful reminder of the love and true happiness that was missing in my life — and that was just heartbreaking and living those days were just brutal.
There was this amount of stress and pressure of getting things done, buying all the presents, being joyous and cheerful when I’d rather just stay in bed and hide under my sheets — it all became just too overwhelming.
This year was my time of healing, learning, accepting and moving forward and with the holiday season coming up, the last thing that I would want to happen is to relieve last year’s holiday and get caught up in those dark and painful days.
And since you’re here, chances are you might be feeling the same way too.
I know the Holiday Season can be painful and overwhelming at times, especially if you’re dealing with your own inner struggles.
So, to help us stay on top of our mental health this season and avoid the feeling of stress and overwhelm — Here are 5 Effective Mental Health Tips to Cope with Holiday Stress…
Let go of any expectations
For last year’s holiday season, I wanted things to be exactly the same as it was the year before. Before depression consumed me and before we lost him.
And that was my mistake. I put too much pressure on myself and I went through so much stress trying to make things the same, I wanted so badly for everything to feel exactly like it was the year before — but it wasn’t.
It was far from that. Instead of accepting it, I ignored it and I hid from it and when I realized that that wasn’t possible, I was so devastated and it just broke me more.
Sometimes, we all have this expectation set in our minds. We all expect things to be the same as they were the previous years. We want to relieve past joys and happiness and if we don’t meet those expectations, we just end up feeling distressed and heartbroken.
That’s why this year, we have to let go of all that expectations.
We have to let go of all those idealized situations that we have placed in our minds and accept whatever it is that is happening now.
We need to stop focusing on the beauty and joys of the past and start looking for the beauty and happiness of the present — this will make all the difference!
Take on responsibilities on a level that you’re comfortable with
Since I’m a people pleaser (this is something that I’m still working on changing) I always feel the need to do everything that I can to make the holidays enjoyable and perfect for everyone.
Now as amazing as that sounds, constantly doing that was only causing me more harm than good.
Doing things for other people is not at all bad but when we try to please everyone, try to keep everyone happy to a point where we start to forget tending to our own needs, then this is where the problem starts. Constantly doing this can be very debilitating and detrimental to your mental health.
Especially, if you’re someone who is struggling with a mental illness.
That’s why we need to constantly remind ourselves that it is not our responsibility to keep everyone happy (especially, if we are already having a hard time keeping ourselves happy).
Try to keep your responsibilities at a level that you’re truly comfortable with.
If you feel like doing a specific task is too much for you, let a family member know.
Don’t push your stress limits. You don’t have to do everything and you don’t need to feel guilty about it.
Regardless of how much I try to ignore it, but what really broke me last year was seeing other people have it all together, seeing their happiness and how they seem to have everything figured out somewhat reminded me of what I was missing in my life.
I was constantly comparing my holiday experience with theirs.
And you know what good that brought me? Nothing. It only made me feel worse.
If you find yourself constantly doing this here’s what I want you to know: Stop comparing your holiday experience with everyone else’s. It is not a competition – there is no need to compare.
Keep in mind that everything you see is what they want all people to see. Things are not always what it seems.
They may seem like they have everything figured out but they may also be battling their own struggles.
Focus all your energy and attention on YOUR journey. Find the beauty and happiness in your own experience.
Let go of perfection
Back then, I was always striving for perfection. Whether it’s at work, doing a simple task and of course, in planning the holidays.
And whether we admit it or not, more often, we find ourselves getting caught up in the idea of creating this perfect Christmas, getting the perfect presents and just doing everything perfectly.
But regardless of how much we try, it’s not always guaranteed that everything will work out the way we wanted. Things can get out of control and mistakes can happen here and there.
Perfection doesn’t exist and if we continue to let ourselves chase after it, it will be nothing but exhausting and draining.
Trust that as long as you are doing your best, that is already more than enough.
Be good to yourself
Last year, I placed this unreasonable amount of pressure to be happy. To show other people that I was cheerful.
That I was my old self — enjoying the holidays. I was fixated into thinking that since it’s the holidays I needed to be happy, that I needed to set aside all the pain that I felt and just focus on being joyous.
But I wasn’t and I was not able to keep pretending that I was, and when I fell apart, I condemned myself — that just made me feel worse.
I know we may feel guilty if we are not able to rejoice, be happy and enjoy the holidays but you don’t have to feel this guilt.
What you’re feeling is valid and it’s okay for you to acknowledge it. You don’t have to pretend to be okay if you’re not.
If you feel like taking a break, do so. If you feel like crying or venting out, do it.
If you want to spend some time alone, that’s okay. There’s no need for you to pressure yourself into doing anything or feeling anything that you don’t want.
Be good to yourself.
I know holidays can be tough if you’re going through struggles, loss and experiencing setbacks. But regardless of how low you may feel right now, I want you to know that you are not alone. You are strong enough to get through this and you are valued.
Though it may not be possible for us to avoid all holiday stress triggers, I want you to do your best to look for things or do things that can lift your spirit and bring you peace.
You got this!
What do you do to take care of your mental health this holiday season? Let me know in the comment section below or send me an email, I would love to hear from you!