Our resident psychotherapsit and social worker, Megan Hughes had these timely tips to survive the holidays. Thanks for sharing!

The holidays are fast approaching, and while this time of the year can bring about laughter, quality time, feelings of joy, and those classic cheesy Christmas movies, it can also bring about feelings of stress; especially when you throw a global pandemic into the mix! While we know that things will look different this year, it is important to practice strategies that will support your mental health during the holidays:

  • Plan ahead
    • When we see that the road ahead might be a little bumpy, it can help to plan ahead so that we have strategies readily available to cope
    • Start to plan some fun activities, schedule virtual events, build in time for self-care, etc.
  • Daily movement
    • Movement and exercise help to release endorphins (“the happy hormone”) and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the body
    • Lower stress levels increase the ability to manage stressful events and build overall resiliency
    • Home exercises, stretching, dancing around the house, or going for a walk (bundle up!) are a few examples
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
    • Keeping a consistent bedtime and morning routine will help your body prepare for a restful sleep every night
    • Continue to focus on getting a balanced sleep even throughout the holidays
  • Healthy eating
    • While the holidays bring about the wonderful gift of holiday baking, don’t forget to keep up with healthy eating and give your body the nutrients it needs for a healthy mind to manage your day to day activities
  • Self-care
    • Check in with yourself on a regular basis and ask yourself, “what do I need right now?”
    • Make time for the little things (take a bath, play an instrument, colour, draw, journal, watch a cheesy Christmas movie, listen to music, dance, play, DIY projects, etc.)
  • Practice gratitude
    • Take time to remember the things that you are grateful for – big or small
    • This can be just appreciating the basics, like your 5 senses (e.g. your ability to see, hear, feel, etc)
  • Connect
    • As humans, we are built for connection. Find ways to continue to connect with others, whether that is by phone, text, email, video chat, or have a social distance visit
    • Reach out to others – check in, tell funny stories, listen, empathize, validate, vent, etc.
  • Make friends with winter
    • Winter is here, so why not make friends with it J
    • Bundle up, layer up (mask up) and get outside for some fresh air
    • Spending time outside and in nature can help us feel grounded, present and mindful
  • Create new traditions
    • We might not be able to do all the festive things that we typically do every year, so now is the chance to get creative with making new holiday traditions 
    • Move online – open gifts, cook, eat dinners, play games, watch movies over video chat
  • Give yourself permission to feel
    • Remind yourself and family members that it is ok to feel whatever you are feeling – it’s ok to feel anxious, nervous, confused, excited, scared, frustrated, etc.
    • Normalize these feelings, remind your family that their feelings are natural and manageable

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