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The holiday season can be joyous for some and painful for others. This month’s mental health blog will focus on strategies for navigating the holiday season. The first strategy to survive the holidays is to accept your needs. Your mental and physical well-being must come first. Be aware of what your triggers are to help you prepare for stressful situations. Once you know what these are, you can take steps to avoid stressful situations or cope.

Another tool you can try is to write a gratitude list. A study of two groups showed that those  who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their life. Gratitude has a large impact on mental health and is a great way to reflect on the year. Give thanks to those who have supported you. Reflect on all the good things that occurred over the last 12 months.

Next, be aware of your limitations and do not take on more than you can handle. This time of year includes parties, traveling, gift exchanges, etc. It is okay to say no to some of these events. Prioritizing your time and tasks properly can help prevent feelings of being overwhelmed. You must also be comfortable with setting boundaries and controlling your role within your family dynamic. This can be complex in the sense that all families are different. If there are certain topics you don’t want to discuss, set a boundary with your family and friends. Inform them that you are not comfortable. If they are not considerate of your boundaries, it is okay to step away for a bit. 

Finally, you need to remember to set aside time for yourself and prioritize self-care. This may look different for each person. Schedule time for activities that make you happy. This could be going to the gym, reading a book, going on a run, or listening to your favorite music. Taking care of your mental health and participating in activities you enjoy is important. Self-care is different for everyone. Do what is considered self-care for you.

Remember, It is important to accept and notice how you are feeling. When you notice your mental health is not where you would like it, step back and slow down. You do not need to do everything with perfection all the time. Taking a step back in whatever aspect of life you need to is okay. This is especially important as we enter the holidays. These are only a few ways to help your mental health during this holiday season. If you are interested in more techniques and strategies, refer to the link below to NAMI’s website. Have a wonderful Christmas and exciting New Year. We’ll see you at the gym.