The holiday season is a tough time for our mental health. The stress of buying gifts, seeing family members that you don't really want to, the dread of another year ending, and not to forget the exam season are universities gifts to all us students during this time. Therefore, it's really important to take care of your mental health this time of year. So, no matter which holidays you celebrate, give your mental health a gift this year!
- Stop comparing your experience to others
During this time of year it's so easy to look at people’s social media and see them having the most perfect holiday or gathering with their family, or even seeing them make a meal that looks so amazing that you look at yours and think “Why can’t I be that good?” It is important to remember that people put the parts of their life on social media that they want you to see. They will post a beautiful and cheery photo of their family eating breakfast together; but they won’t show you the fight that happened over getting everybody waking up early for it. Although this is important to remember all year round, it’s something you should remind yourself a little more during this time of year.
- Set boundaries you’re comfortable with
This one is definitely easier said than done. This time of year tends to be when people see a lot of family members. Although, COVID might lessen being physically present with your family, technology will not let you miss seeing them. Unfortunately, some of us have family members that may always pry with uncomfortable questions, make you unhappy, or are just toxic as a whole. Oftentimes being put into situations with these people can cause a lot of anxiety or sadness. It’s important to set your boundaries. With family it can be tricky to do, but nonetheless it’s still necessary. If you are able to, tell them that you are not comfortable talking about a certain subject or them delving into your personal life with their criticising questions. Better yet, with those who you feel are not good for your wellbeing, if you are able to, staying away from them completely is an option. Many of these options might be difficult for people and not accessible. So, doing whatever it is you can to take care of your mental health is useful. Remember, taking care of yourself is your main priority, not others who don’t care for you the same.
- Treat yourself
Treating yourself is a very important part of self care. Although this time of year can be stressful, it is a time that a lot of people are fortunate enough to have some time off , whether it be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Take this break to take care of yourself. Treating yourself is a good way to boost your mental health because you're doing what makes you feel good. Taking care of oneself looks different for everybody. It could be buying yourself that pair of pants you’ve been eyeing, going out for more walks, or even something as simple as watching Netflix while sipping on some hot cocoa.
- Surround yourself with your loved ones
This time of year sometimes feels lonely for a lot of us. We see big happy families and cute couples celebrating together and it might make us feel bad for not having that. But you’re wrong. We all have people who we love and love us back. Whether that be our friends, our siblings, a significant other, or even our pet. Although there are restrictions due to COVID, remembering that we have others to talk to and spend time with will make us feel less lonely. Everyone has someone to spend this time of year with. Throw your stereotypical views of what “happy” looks like during the holidays out the window.
- Stay on a schedule
When we feel down we tend to spiral into a repetition of days that just blend together. If you know you tend to get down this time of year then try setting yourself a schedule. Now, this doesn’t have to be a strict schedule, but just something for yourself to do everyday to keep your mind running and occupied. The act of completing a task will spark a good feeling to come your way. These tasks could be the simplest of things, such as making sure you fold your laundry, or even cooking yourself a homemade meal. Staying on a schedule could also mean keeping up with your recovery during these times. Although it might get hard this time of year, staying on top of taking your medication and self care is important. For myself, I’m making sure that I go on my daily walk that my psychiatrist recommends, as well as taking my medications every night.
The holiday season can be a hard time for some of us. But it is a time that we will get through. Be kind to yourself and remember that your mental health is an important and valid priority. Do whatever it is that’s good for you this season because you know yourself best.