For some the holidays are a time of togetherness, family, and friends. For others, it is a time of isolation, loneliness, and a reminder that they don’t have a support system. Janet is a 27-year-old single woman and has many friends and a close-knit family. Thomas is a 30-year-old male whose family is in another state, and he is not very close with them. He doesn’t have a lot of friends since he moved to a new city, and finds it difficult to meet new people. Here are two people, relatively the same age, and although their lives are so different, they may experience some of the same feelings during the holiday times.
So, what do you do when you are Thomas, and have nowhere to go, and a sense of not belonging? And what about Janet, who although she has support, feels overwhelmed with too many obligations creating a different kind of stress. And another factor both of these people might have in common is that finances may be a concern. Here are ten things you can do during the holidays to help with stress, loneliness, or feeling overwhelmed.
10 Tips for Self-Care During The Holidays
- Make a schedule of the different obligations, parties, and events that you have
- If you schedule your time out, you will less likely feel overwhelmed because there is less of a chance of forgetting that you might have conflicting obligations
- Set limits and boundaries for yourself
- Set a limit for yourself as to what you will do in advance so you will feel more prepared with the events that you do go to, and less pressure to those that you have declined
- Make sure to get some “me time” in for yourself
- Make an appointment for a manicure or pedicure
- Take some time to get a cup of coffee and relax, instead of grabbing a coffee on the run
- Take a drive to the beach or a park and spend an hour enjoying the quiet
- Relax in a warm bubble bath with candles lit, and soft relaxing music
- Although this is another thing on your schedule for those with a support system, it brings a sense of joy and gratitude when you can be of help to others
- For those with no support during the holidays, you get the same sense of joy and gratitude, but also get the benefit of interacting with others and are appreciated at the same time. It gives these individuals the sense of belonging they may yearn for
- Budget what you can afford for gifts or any extras during the holidays
- This will also help decrease some of your stress when you know ahead of time what you can afford, and how much to allot where
- Keep as close to your regular diet, schedule and routine as possible
- Try to plan ahead when going to parties. If you have a party 4 nights a week, and are eating rich foods, you may not only not feel good physically, but your energy level will also decrease.
- Try to make sure you’re getting enough sleep
- When you’re not sleeping as well, your resistance to getting sick increases
- You also have less tolerance for things when you are tired
- Set realistic expectations for yourself and your family members
- Sometimes it’s not possible for all your family to be together at the same time
- Maybe do a gift exchange in advance and mail the presents to where the individual you picked will be. That way everyone still has some connection to family, and can participate in some way
- This also helps with your budget, as you are only buying for one person and not everyone in the family.
- For some this may mean a 15-minute walk, yoga, running, or taking an exercise class
- According to The Mayo Clinic, exercise has physiological benefits that help reduce depression, and in addition it takes your mind off worries, and increases healthy coping, as well as often times increases social interactions
- Mindfulness or Meditation
- Whatever you call it, or however you choose to quiet your mind, mindfulness is a way to decrease stress and create a sense of calm within
- Seek out support
- Whether that be a friend, therapy, a support group, or calling a hotline
- It is important to know that there is support, even when you are feeling isolated, alone, or overwhelmed
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 24/7 and is a great place to get support (800-273-8255)
If you are feeling in need of support during the holidays, feel free to contact me and schedule and appointment. Although the holidays are publicized as a cheerful and joyous time, many people need some extra support during these months.
Norine Vander Hooven is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been in practice for 30 years. Norine views the decision to enter therapy as displaying strength and courage. She specializes in suicide prevention, depression, anxiety, women’s issues, and life transitions. Norine is also EMDR trained and uses this to work with people with PTSD and severe anxiety. Norine works with youth, adolescents, adults, and families.
Originally published on PsychCentral