Sustainable Mental Health During The Holidays

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Whether you need to design a budget, book flights, plan a meal, or just decide how to address the tough comments or conversations that might arise, having a plan is awesome. Planning allows us to reduce our anxiety, to be honest about the things we actually have control over, and empowers us to make decisions that are aligned with who we are so that we don’t experience moments of pressure without a way to ensure we stay on our chosen path. We can’t plan for everything but the act of planning for some things may help us to enjoy this season more fully.

Schedule Self-Care Time

In the same way that a plan for tough conversations, or planning a family dinner gives us a sense of empowerment and relieves some anxiety, scheduling self-care time is a valuable approach to use this time of year. When we decide to schedule some time to take care of ourselves, put it in the calendar, and make it non-negotiable we allow ourselves to be well and ensure that we’ll be more able to approach the ups and downs of the season.

The Season Of Overindulging

There is a certain feeling to the holidays: cookies, large meals, and other common sights are often shown (in commercials, and on social media) in gluttonous amounts. As we work to keep ourselves mentally and physically well, it may be valuable to decide how to navigate moments where we feel pulled to or happen to overindulge in food or other experiences. Showing ourselves some self-compassion and giving ourselves some parameters to work within as we work to enjoy but not over-do, can be a difficult but valuable experience.

Dealing With Button-Pushers

In much the same way that we plan for self-care, or plan ways to avoid over-indulgence, we might also want to take some time to explore our boundaries this holiday season. We may need to set some boundaries regarding particular conversations ahead of time, or decide how much time to spend with a particular loved one. Further we may need to take some time to identify whether someone or something is a “button pusher” for us. This means thinking deeply about those things that might make us uncomfortable, self-doubting, or just not right. We might need to decide what those things are and how we can deal with them. For example, if a family member tends to use a derogatory term for a particular group of people, how might we decide to act in response. Will we leave the room, offer some insight into our perspective on that term, change the conversation, or ignore the comment? While each of us might make a different decision in this case, if a particular term, conversation, behavior, or person tends to find us feeling less self-compassion or less aligned, it may be valuable to explore how we might be best served in reacting.

Grief And Memory In The Holiday Season

The holidays might also be a time when we remember loved ones we’ve lost. In much the same way that a funeral or other service for a deceased loved one caused us to recall them, the holidays may bring forth their memory again. The sense of gratitude for having known them might be coupled with a sense of loss and of losing them all over again. It may, then, be helpful to write down our best memories or most favorite things about that person. It may also be helpful, if it aligns with our spiritual beliefs, to pray or perform a ritual in their memory. Finally, if the loved one was a common family member or friend in your friend group. It may be valuable to spend time with those people and to remember your loved one in some way when you do so.

The Value Of Reflection

As the new year approaches we may also want to look back on the past year. We can take stock of our progress and on our accomplishments (big and small) and create gratitude for the past year as well. We can also identify places where we might need to continue to grow, set goals for moving forward, and design a few steps we can take in the new year to continue in our positive path. Reflection can help us to find gratitude, address pain points, and create hope for our future as one year ends and another begins.

Be Okay With Not Feeling The “Magic” Of The Season

There is a great deal of messaging and pressure encouraging us to feel ecstatic at this time of year. While that’s not a terrible message in and of itself, it does create expectations that we might feel compelled to follow. This can be especially difficult for those of us in recovery, those dealing with loss, those dealing with depression, those dealing with seasonal-affective disorder, or others who have mental health or personal trials that are on-going during this season. One way to address this pressure to be happy is to acknowledge how we actually feel, to continue our on-going self-care practice, to continue to seek mental health care if needed, and to allow ourselves to feel exactly how we feel without judgement. There is enough pressure placed upon us all this time of year, and so we need not place further pressure on ourselves.


One of the greatest difficulties we might face during this season is a lack of connection. If we are not someone with a great deal of family, friends, or loved ones, this season can magnify that fact and we can begin to judge ourselves or feel disheartened by this. One way we can address this is to reach out to our local community. Taking this step can help you to realize a very important truth: You are not alone.

Root To Rise believes in healing through human connection. We’d love for you to join our tribe and we’d love to get to know you and to support you as you continue your recovery and wellness journey.

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