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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

It happens to the best of us, our holiday festivities that are meant to be full of peace and cheer sometimes get halted by a case of the holiday blues. It may make no sense to most of us, why does the time that’s supposed to be the most joyous end up hitting us so hard? While the answer may not be obvious, know that if you feel this way, you are not alone. Over 64% of people with previous mental illnesses, reported that the holiday season increases their symptoms.

The first step to changing these affects on your life is to recognize where they come from. For many, the holiday season is simply an extra stressful time. Whether it be financially, end of year self-reflection, high expectations or otherwise, the month of December proves to be a difficult time. Once you become aware of where your stress and heavy emotion may be coming from, it is easier to take steps to dismantle it!

Every year, my mental health takes its own decline during the holiday season. Here are some things that I am trying this December, that I invite you to join me in:

  1. Set Realistic Expectations. Inviting over family members that you know are bound to drown you in political debates? Prepare yourself for that. Have knowledge of what you know you want to say, and know when it is okay to step away from the conversation. Know that you may be spending New Years Eve alone? Prepare yourself for that. Plan a special self-care night and watch the ball drop in your pjs with a bottle of champagne by your side.
  2. Take as Much Time for Yourself as You Need. As I’m sure it was for many of you, this year was a particularly difficult one. As the world has coped with the Coronavirus, and now are beginning to open back up and return to our regularly programmed hectic-full-schedule lives, it’s important to rest. I’ve planned a mini solo vacation for myself. For three days, I’m focusing solely on me, my mental health, and rest.
  3. Don’t Overdo It. It may be tempting to see all of your friends and family as you return home, and you may find yourself trying to make time to see and spend time with everyone. It’s important to recognize your limits though, and not overbook yourself to the point of increasing your stress rather than decreasing it instead.
  4. Be Kind to Your Body. The holiday season often results in us eating all of the good, delicious, fatty comfort foods. Let yourself do that. It’s easy to find ourselves wrapped up in the calorie-counting especially on these days where we may be abandoning our day-to-day eating habits. It’s okay to let yourself relax for one day and enjoy the sweets, the mashed potatoes, and relax by the fireplace with a glass of wine. It’s the holidays, we don’t need to be so hard on ourselves.
  5. Be Mindful of Your Coping Mechanisms. Whether it’s the holiday food or the overindulgence in those holiday party cocktails, be mindful and set limitations with yourself when necessary. It’s easy to channel our sadness into these escapes, and the holidays give us an excuse to do so. This can be dangerous though, so think about it before you go to that party, and plan accordingly.

I know that the holidays can be a very challenging time, and to anyone else struggling right now, I want to remind you we are in this together. Happy holiday season to you all! Enjoy the end to your year, whether with family and friends or by yourself. You deserve to celebrate and to rest.

Sophia Lovell is a third year Philosophy and English double major at UCSB. She is originally from San Diego, but embraces Isla Vista as her second home. Her passions include trying not to kill her houseplants, cold brew, and dismantling the patriarchy.
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