This year has been full of many surprises and twists and turns. And with the holidays quickly approaching, it’s normal to feel apprehensive or worried about what to expect. After all, the usual face-to-face gatherings may have to be replaced by virtual gatherings. This can be a hard thing to adjust to if you’re used to seeing friends and family in person. However, technology and socially distanced meetups still allows us the chance to have that connection that we need while keeping everyone safe.
It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but there are still so many things to be grateful for this year. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we should appreciate the little things more. The holidays may be different to traditional celebrations, but they are still going ahead! Our resilience alone is cause for celebration.
Here’s how you can nurture your mental health around the holidays and keep everyone safe.
Keep A Gratitude Diary
A gratitude diary can simply be any notebook turned into a space where you write down your thoughts and feelings. Within these pages, you can write down the things you are most grateful for and why. You can get creative with this to make yourself feel calmer and more relaxed. You can use colors, clippings, and cut out pictures – whatever helps you visualize the process. Try to write something new and different every day, or every other day. It could be something as small as enjoying a good cup of coffee to start your day. The small things all add up to big things. Only when you write them down do you realize how many small things you can appreciate. It simply puts things into perspective.
Maybe you’re not going home to your relatives or family’s home this year for the holidays so why not get extra festive and try starting your own traditions. Perhaps you’ve never bought a Christmas tree before or dressed up your home with festive decorations. Adding extra cozy items like cedar candles, a fuzzy couch blanket and holiday pillows can brighten up your day and your home. You can also try your hand at some holiday baking like shortbread cookies, or host your very own virtual gingerbread house competition with friends! Finding ways to occupy your time with positive activities and DIY projects can stimulate the mind and remind you that the holidays can still be celebrated.
Put Less Pressure On Yourself
Many of us put a considerable amount of pressure on ourselves to get everything on our to-do list ticked off: to make sure we reply to messages in a timely manner, to make sure our work is the highest quality it can be. It can be difficult to balance everything and find ways to cope.
To add to the mounting pressure, many of us now have to worry about not seeing our families for the holidays. This can add guilt to the list, however; it’s important to remember that this is only done through selflessness – we are trying to keep everyone safe. While it can be difficult distancing yourself from your family this year, by doing so you will be protecting them. And really, ask yourself, is there any gift better than that?
In those moments where it feels like there is too much weight on your shoulders, that’s when you need to release some of it. When you feel like you have too much to do, that’s when you need to do less. This can seem counterproductive but someone who is stressed and worried isn’t going to be able to concentrate very well. We simply burn out. That’s why daily acts of self care are essential.
See Friends or Family Responsibly
It’s a difficult time for many people who are isolating or kept apart from friends and family right now. If there is a way that you can see them in a responsible way that keeps you and them both safe, then it might be beneficial for your mental health. In these situations where you may be struggling with loneliness, it’s important to reach out. One way of keeping in touch with family and friends is through regular video calls. During these times, you can get creative. Why not host a trivia quiz and invite the whole family to join in? Or you could have a virtual dinner celebration and share some of your favorite memories together. Playing virtual games and sharing stories is a great way to become more connected.
If virtual meetups are difficult for you, then perhaps you could arrange a socially distanced walk with a family member or friend. Seeing people face-to-face while keeping everyone safe is one way to boost your spirits!
Get Outside As Much As Possible
Being indoors for extended amounts of time may seem like a dream come true for homebodies, but for many people it can take a toll on their mental health. A change of scenery, exercise, and fresh air can make a big difference. Even if you feel you would rather not leave the house, going for even a 20 minute walk can really give your brain and body a boost of feel good endorphins. It’s an act of self care that is often neglected. Staying indoors for long periods of time can make you feel sad and start to overthink all the negatives going on in the world.
Going for frequent walks breaks the day up and creates a routine to add some normality to a very abnormal situation. Night walks may be preferable as there are significantly less people outside; some people also find it more calming being out at night.
Set Screen Timers on your Social Media
Social media like the addictive Instagram scroll or Twitter status updates, can effect our mental health in a negative way. While it can be a great way to keep updated with friends and news, it can also be difficult to see pictures of other people’s best highlights.
Here’s why you should limit your social media use:
- It can increase feelings of sadness, jealousy and loneliness
- You can get lost for hours scrolling
- There are other things you can be doing to nurture your mental health
The most important thing to remember when scrolling through social media is that you often only see people’s best highlights. These people could be struggling just as much as you are. That’s something that you might not necessarily see, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Remember that the holidays aren’t cancelled this year – it’s just different. Trying to embrace this new way of living is key to nurturing your mental health. Remember to write down what you’re thankful for, stay connected with loved ones daily, and practice self-care on the regular. Hopefully, this year, more of us will be even more appreciative of what we have. It will make us truly cherish the little things more than ever before.