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How to Relax and Enjoy the Holidays

Victoria Brown, LPC
Counselor, Insight Clinical Counseling and Wellness, LLC

The daylight has changed. Our days are colder and shorter days of sunlight have come into our lives. Many of us are turning to our favorite cozy activities: Making more soups, reading a little more, curling up with blankets, watching movies, and enjoying hot cocoa. It’s a time of year when many of us slow down. But this time of the year can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. When we want to rest, we find ourselves juggling family events, work, shopping for gifts, holiday events, and more.

Some of us who turn to social media often see posts filled with perfectly decorated homes, beautifully cooked cookies and meals, and families spending time together. As we scroll through posts, this level of perfection seems impossible to reach. Sometimes, it makes you feel as though you are not doing enough or makes you sad that you are not doing what you see on social media. Everyone is different and celebrates in different ways. But sometimes, the hustle and bustle of the holiday can cause some mental and emotional well-being issues. Maybe you are having financial difficulties, the memory of a loved one who will not be attending the holiday parties. Then, you find yourself tired and overwhelmed, counting down until it ends. So, how do you protect your mental health during the holiday season?

Be kind to yourself and others during this time of the year. While this should be something everyone practices year around it never hurts to be extra kind! Everyone we meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about whether it Is seasonal depression, anxiety, loss of a loved one, or just the added stress of the holidays. Receiving and giving kindness benefits all involved, so don’t hold back on the kindness.

We can all agree that there are levels of stress that accompany this time of year. We live in a busy world with obligations family, friends, work, and so much more. What are you able to do? Make a list and decide if there is anything that you do not have to do on that list. Can you ask for help with those tasks that need to be completed? If someone asks if there is anything I can help you with, allow yourself grace and accept the help. Sometimes we take on too much and regret our decision. It is Okay to take something off our list and admit that we took on too much. That is when you can look at your support system and ask for help.

But what counts during this time of year? The laughter, the food, and the music were blasting from every speaker in the house. Time with family and friends watching movies, playing board games, and spending time with each other drinking hot chocolate throughout this season. What you will remember is how you felt during those times. The feeling of nostalgia often comes to mind during the holidays. Whether sitting near the fireplace or gathering around the table, take some time to revisit past holidays and your favorite memories. Memories are the most important gift that you can give someone. This time of year can be truly magical, so when you start to feel overwhelmed.

So, try to relax; pick a nice quiet place where you like to hang out alone. You can choose to focus on your own breath or on a part of your body. Keep focused while you slowly and deeply breathe in and out. See if your stomach seems to bulge out when breathing in, and then you exhale it all out for one to two minutes. Try not to let any other thoughts or feelings enter your mind. If they do, just return your attention to your breathing or on a part of your body. At the end of this exercise, you will probably feel more peaceful and calmer.

Meditation

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply for five counts in and five out. Let your breathing be slow and relaxed. Focus all your attention on your breathing. Notice the movement of your chest and abdomen in and out. Repeat at least three times.
  • Block out all other thoughts, feelings, and sensations. If you feel your attention wandering, bring it back to your breathing.
  • Continue this exercise until you feel very relaxed.

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