The holiday season can be stressful, but what if this year we let go of the pressure to have a perfect Christmas or Hanukkah and chose to find joy in the small pleasures? Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy the holiday season while minimizing the negative impact to your mental health

Kristin Bower is a Leadership and Workplace Consultant with MyWorkplaceHealth and an award-winning Diversity and Inclusion expert. With over 20-years of experience, she is an outspoken advocate for deeper awareness of mental health issues and is committed to helping organizations foster psychologically safe and healthy workplaces.

“The happiest time of the year!” Or is it more like, “The happiest time of the year????!”

Some of us love everything about the holiday season – cookies, music, gifts! And some of us have a harder time with it all. Perhaps you are grieving the loss of a loved one or find yourself alone in a new city. Or maybe you just don’t like all the commercialism that can come with this time of year. Whichever way you look at it, the holiday season can be stressful.

What if this year we let go of the pressure to have a perfect Christmas or Hanukkah and chose to find joy in the small pleasures? Here are five tips to help you enjoy the holiday season while minimizing the negative impact to your mental health:

  1. Stay in the moment: You start writing your gift list and then it turns into pages of holiday season to-do’s. Before long, you are already worrying about the fight that is sure to happen between your dad and uncle at the dinner table. When you find your mind racing ahead, take a deep breath, remind yourself to stay present in the moment and enjoy that moment. Have a cup of tea, put on some music and sit quietly. Or, get up and go for a walk outside – be mindful of the sights and sounds around you.
  1. Keep things simple: Do you feel inspired or overwhelmed by the images on social media that show perfectly decorated homes and elaborate family meals? It’s easy to get carried away and want to do it all. But here is the truth: perfection is unattainable. Aim for your own version of perfection and embrace everything that comes with it.
  1. Don’t overspend: Your gift list may start with four people and before you know it you have added your next-door neighbour, your hairdresser and the dog walker. The costs can add up quickly! Be creative with gift giving: could you bake cookies or give coupons for things that you can do together in the new year? Create a list, set a budget and stick with it. Come January when your credit card balance is low and your bank account still has money it, you’ll be thankful!
  1. Balance your indulgences: It’s the season of “eat, drink and be merry.” It can be fun to indulge but do so with a plan to ensure you don’t go overboard. Bring a delicious salad to the office potluck to balance the yummy sweets that you and your colleagues will be enjoying. Have you been invited to a cocktail party? For every alcoholic drink you have, follow it with a glass of water or a mocktail. And keep in mind that alcohol is a depressant so if you have a mood disorder, be careful to not overindulge.
  1. Practice gratitude: Gratitude has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on the chemicals in the brain. One of the biggest impacts of gratitude on our mental health? It helps to reduce stress. Start a New Year’s Resolution a month early and begin practicing gratitude. Each day or before you go to bed at night, write down three things you’re grateful for. Gratitude can shift your perspective and help to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

To learn more about the Diversity and Inclusion training Kristen offers or about other MyWorkplaceHealth service offerings, get in touch!

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