6 Ways to Prioritize Mental Health This Holiday Season

Finals season is a stressful time, especially when mixed with COVID-19 stress. Luckily, winter break is almost here and will be a great opportunity to reset and recharge after all the hard work you have done throughout the fall semester. Everyone knows that taking care of your physical health is important, but it is just as important to take care of your mental health. Here are 6 ways to take care of your mental wellbeing this winter break!

  1. 1. Journal

    bullet journal

    You have probably heard this suggestion time after time, but journaling has truly helped people in many ways. According to this New York Times article, journaling can boost mindfulness, lead to better sleep and strengthen self-confidence. There are many ways to journal, from stream of conscious writing, making gratitude lists or even colouring. Take some time during the winter break to find what style works for you. Good times to journal are in the morning or just before bed.

  2. 2. Connect With Friends

    Zoom meeting with coffee

    Remote learning and social distancing have been stressful for everyone. While it is more difficult to do things with friends during the pandemic (and only getting harder with the cold weather), social connection is important to your mental wellbeing; your friends probably need to de-stress too! Streaming movies together through Teleparty to playing an organized game of Among Us, there are many ways to connect virtually if you just get creative.

  3. 3. Eat Healthy Foods

    Three pre-made meals in containers

    While being obviously connected to your physical health, eating healthy is also important for your mental health. As described by Eva Selhub (MD) in this Harvard article, your brain is always running and is in constant need of fuel. Foods high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are what your brain needs to function best. Use your free time to find fun and healthy new recipes on Pinterest or meal prep dinners for the week!

  4. 4. Exercise

    Woman exercising indoors on yoga mat

    We all know that exercise is good for your physical health, but it also has benefits for your mental health, including reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and improving self-esteem and cognitive function (Sharma, Madaan & Petty, 2006). While the upcoming winter weather may deter you from going to the gym or walking outside, there are many ways to stay active indoors. For example, yoga is a perfect way to combine mindfulness, relaxation and exercise. Looking for something more upbeat? Dance workouts on YouTube are my current favourite!

  5. 5. Meditate

    Similar to yoga and journaling, meditation is an increasingly popular activity that can help you focus on your mental wellbeing and mindfulness. Meditation does not have to be sitting in silence for a long time, as you may think. Simply taking 5 minutes to close your eyes and focus on your breathing can fit into a busy day and help you to de-stress. If you have trouble meditating on your own, try guided meditation and mindfulness exercises with apps like Headspace.

  6. 6. Avoid Multi-Tasking

    person looking at their phone while working on a laptop

    If you try to take on too many things at once, you’ll probably end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. The more we try to do, the more distracted and disconnected we actually feel. It is better to do one thing at a time and commit fully to each thing you do. During the break, school will be one thing taken off your plate. Try to use your time to live in the moment, and you may just enjoy everything a little more.

Winter break is the perfect time to see what helps you feel more relaxed, happy and positive. Who knows, you might enjoy them enough to do them throughout the whole year! Whatever you choose to do during the holidays, take the time to take care of yourself; you deserve it!