By Alyssa Cypher
The holiday season can be a joyous time filled with family, friends, and loved ones. But it can also be stressful, overwhelming, or triggering – whether you live with a mental illness or not. Paying extra attention to self-care can be a great way to take care of yourself and your mental health during the holidays.
It’s important to note that self-care doesn’t need to be luxurious massages and expensive vacations; it can be relaxing with a book, taking a deep breath, going to therapy or taking medications, or feeding and bathing yourself during a difficult day. The most important thing about self-care is that it works for you.
For the month of December, we asked our supporters how they protect their mental health during the holiday season. We received tons of amazing and informative responses, from self-care to setting boundaries to DBT skills! Check out some of our favorite responses below:
Using Mindfulness and DBT Skills in Creative Ways
“I don’t take the greatest care of myself during the holidays. I get stressed because I want to do so many things. I feel like I miss the whole season in the name of productivity. This year I’m working on mindfulness and paring down the commitments. I make myself not skip any group therapy either during holidays. I’ve been in RO / DBT skills groups for the past few years. Hearing how other members cope is really helpful. I have also been doing a DBT pleasant events schedule Christmas countdown on my IG account to help with stress. I take a lot of pictures, and it helps me pull back from stress a bit as well.” – @lookleftwalkgreen
Setting Boundaries and Showing Gratitude
“Setting boundaries with family is key for my holiday survival! I always have my own transportation, schedule, and emergency escape plan if boundaries are crossed. I no longer see the holidays as a time I “owe” to my family at my own expense, and we are all better off as a result. I also love sending New Year’s cards, since I’m not religious. It seems a great time to reflect, show gratitude, and wish people well in the new year. Love putting pen to paper!” – Molly Krichten (@heyheymollykay)
Most Importantly, I Enjoy!
“I have several things I do throughout the year to maintain calmness. During the holiday season, I sometimes need to be more mindful of this list. 1) Meditate at least ½ hour daily, 2) Stop and listen to my body, 3) Stop and BREATH, 4) Know when to say no to unhealthy situations (i.e., food, activity, others, etc.), and 5) Get enough rest. Most importantly, I enjoy!” – Alan Corn
Changing Your Perspective
“I have found that in times of overwhelming stress, I prefer to use a visual stimulus that helps me focus better. I love “MUTTS” by Patrick McDonnell. He has a wonderfully simple take on animals that is very heartwarming. This particular comic that I call “Perspective” reminds me that no matter how overwhelming things get, simply changing your perspective can make all the difference in the world. I also enjoy using the true essence of the meaning of a word – that makes a profound difference for me.” – Marilyn Micknowski
Putting Faith in God
“What helps me with my depression is meditation in church. It reminds me that God is in complete control of everything. I have been clean and sober for 33 years, and still around the holiday season I stay clear of people who drink and do drugs – that includes family members also. Helps me with triggers and gives me relaxation during holiday interactions.” – Darrell Williams
Winter Walk Self-Care
“I love taking a break from stressful situations by taking a winter walk. Then, I come home and have a hot chocolate or take a warm shower. ☕️” – Alyssa Cypher (@lyss_cypher)
Balancing Busy-ness with Relaxation
“I love the holidays, but have a tendency to go overboard and stress myself out. I’ve learned to balance the busy-ness with scheduled relaxation time so I can enjoy the decorations, music, kids’ excitement, etc. For me, staying organized helps to eliminate stress.” – Darcey Mamone (@darcey07)
Did you see anything you could relate to?
Have you been inspired to adopt some of these holiday coping mechanisms in your daily life?
Here’s a holiday mental health challenge: think about a coping mechanism that you’d like to begin using for the rest of the holiday season. It can be one from this blog, or one of your own. Set a goal with yourself to practice this coping mechanism the next time you are caught in a stressful situation. You can repeat it to yourself, type it into your phone, write it down, whatever helps you to remember. See if using a coping mechanism can make a positive impact in your holiday season (and maybe even bring it into your daily life for the new year)!
Thanks for reading, and Happy Holidays from NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania!