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Stress-less, tips to boost mental health this holiday season


You can’t escape the holidays without hearing the carol “12 Days of Christmas” at least once.

Similarly, it’s likely you have a hard time escaping the stress that the busy time of year brings. Let us share with 12 Days of Stress-less.

The list is courtesy of the Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, LLC.

  1. Catch some rays: Unlike the summertime, this time of year days are much shorter and unless we try, we don’t get much natural light. It’s important year-round that we get a sufficient dose of Vitamin D every day. Get out of the house – take advantage of those few hours of daylight and experience the most inexpensive (read: free!) mood booster there is.
  2. Keep it tropical: Just because it isn’t warm outside doesn’t mean that you should cut out the citrus fruits out of your diet. This time of year, it should be more of a staple in your diet. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are good for keeping you alert and healthy. Especially during flu season, keeping up with your antioxidant intake will keep you from stressing over all the germs that are lurking around.
  3. Take a Walk: If you set aside only 30 minutes to take a quick stroll around the neighborhood, you’ll find that this is one of the easiest ways to keep calm, stay alert, and balance the plethora of yummy treats you’ll be consuming this season.
  4. Keep up the routine: If you already have a daily routine, try your best to stick to it. When you fall out of sync with your life, it’s hard to find a new rhythm or get back on track later. If you don’t already have one, maybe you could use this month to create one. Consider investing in a day planner and create plans for your day. Set a morning routine (don’t forget to include breakfast!) to help with a more tranquil and fulfilling day; Come up with a bedtime routine to achieve a better sleep and more productive days.
  5. Lend a hand: One of the most heart-warming gifts you can give this season is your time. Research some things that interest you that you can enjoy donating a few hours of your time to. If it’s something that you feel personally connected to, you’re more likely to give it your all. You’ll smile while making others smile – it’s a win-win! Try something like volunteering to help your alma mater prepare for their holiday event, or assisting with gift delivery to an elderly home, or if decorating is what sparks your interest, join forces with some friends and family to create unique cards and gifts for a local shelter.
  6. Prioritize and schedule: It’s likely that you’re being pulled in many directions during this season – holiday parties, volunteering opportunities, your niece’s piano recital, a last-minute shopping spree with your best friend. Here’s the thing, there’s only one of you. Figure out what you can handle each day, decide what you need to do for you daily and learn to say “no”. Be careful not to overload yourself and miss the opportunity to take care of you.
  7. Plan ample vacation time: If you can, try to gather enough vacation time to do more than celebrate. After the in-laws head, back home and the clean-up is done, try to have a day or two for you to rest and recover from the holidays so that you can start strong into the new year.
  8. Spending budget: It is very easy to spend way too much during the holidays Everyone seems to be having a sale and you’re determined to make everyone’s day by crossing off a thing or two on their Christmas lists. That’s great, however, you want to make sure that you aren’t going to be suffering when the bills accumulate. Try making a game of your shopping journey: decide who you are purchasing for, what items you intend to pick up, and where to get these items. Find deals. Take cash. Set aside x amount of money that you are taking to go shopping and stop when the cash runs out.
  9. Make lists: Lists are everything. To-do lists, gift lists, grocery store lists – they are your friends. Taking the time to plan what you have to do daily creates the visual depiction of how busy your day will be. It will help you to know how much time or money that you can allot to each task. An excellent management tool, you can feel accomplished by each task you cross off the list.
  10. Set an action plan: Before jumping into the holiday gatherings, make sure you take a chance to carefully consider your mental health. Work with your mental health care provider to create a plan should you get overwhelmed or anxious during the soirees. Know your limits and think of some diversions should there be triggering topics or other obstacles. It might also be a good idea to discuss “safe words” or other cues with your immediate family members or significant other to ensure that you have the best time. Agree on a word or hand gesture to let them know that you need some help wiggling out of a conversation or that you simply need some air.
  11. Let them know: Try setting some time aside to write heartfelt letters to those that put a smile on your face this year. Of course, this might be easiest to do for your special someone or your household members but dig a bit deeper. Maybe you’d want to write a special note to that person in your office who always makes sure to bring you a cup of coffee, too, or that person you see on the train every day that always smiles at you. Making others smile can produce the same happiness in you! And you might just make a new friend in the process.
  12. Create a resolutions list: Every year, many of us make grandiose New Year’s Resolutions that, in all honesty, often fail by the time February or March rolls around. Instead, consider making monthly resolutions for the year. Come up with four or five long-term goals that you want to achieve by the year’s end. Then, decide on two or three smaller goals to work on each month. Most importantly, write them down or go even further to make a vision board; having the visual increases the likelihood that you’d complete the tasks. Vision boards.

For 31 tips to boost your mental health during the holiday season, courtesy of Mental Health America, click here.

If you need to contact Rivendell Behavior Health Services of Arkansas, click here.

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