Sharing Ways To Be Well This Holiday Season
The holidays are almost here again. We know it’s supposed to be a time of cheer and family tradition, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes a time of extra stresses too. Maybe you’re spending a lot of time in close quarters with your family, or struggling to eat healthy with all the holiday treats around. Maybe you’re losing sleep over semester finals. Whatever’s the case, it’s easy, this time of year, to slip up on your self-care. Read on for some quick thoughts on keeping well this season.
Take care of your physical well-being
Mental and physical health are both essential to your overall well-being. And although keeping good care of your physical health isn’t all that complicated, that sure doesn’t mean it’s always easy, especially not with so much going on. So hey, just a friendly reminder: you are important and so is your health!
It’s easy to lose track of your regular sleep schedule this time of year. One week you’re staying up late studying for finals. The next week you’re on winter break and fighting the urge to sleep the day away. It’s especially important to keep a regular sleep routine in times of added stress. Although you may not have to wake early for class during winter break, a regular morning routine can help you feel in control of your life, even if it’s just a quick, ten-minute ordeal after you wake. Maybe that means making a cup of tea or coffee, or reading a novel chapter, taking a walk. Make this routine your own, and find satisfaction in it. Be deliberate in the way you start your day.
A healthy diet can be difficult to keep up even in the best of times, but here come the holidays, which means sugary treats at every turn. It means Grandma pushing you to eat a second plate at Thanksgiving. It’s fine to indulge here and there in your favorite holiday foods, but moderation is key. Make sure you’re getting greens on your plate too.
(Quick tip: eating a healthy snack before the holiday party can help you resist eating a week’s worth of fudge and cookies in one sitting.)
Exercise is key right now, and not just because our diets tend to get a bit fattier during the holiday months. Exercise produces endorphins (endorphins help us feel good), and it also improves our mood, our sleep, and our self-esteem. Even if it’s just taking a quick jog in the morning or an evening walk, go stretch those legs and get some fresh air. Hibernation is for bears.
Be mindful of your mental health
The holidays don’t just strain our physical health; they can be mentally taxing too. Especially if you’re struggling with family issues, a recent loss, a recent breakup, or any other emotional hardship, the holidays can trigger depression and anxiety. Right now it’s important to be mindful of your mental well-being.
Check your expectations
It’s natural to build up some expectations for the holidays, which can leave us feeling disappointed when things don’t go as planned. Let’s be real: sometimes the holidays are boring. You’re friends aren’t around. The days are long. Maybe Grandpa is telling a story you’ve already heard. And then other times, the holidays can be too busy. They can be tense; just because it’s the holiday doesn’t mean family problems disappear. Once you decide that the holiday doesn’t have to be perfect, you can take some pressure off, and starting seeing the goodness in it for what it is, not for what you imagined it should be. Embrace the messiness of the holiday this year.
We spend a lot of time thinking about what we don’t have, or what we’d like to have, but for this holiday season, try to be deliberate in the practice of gratitude. Try thinking in terms of what you do have, instead of what you don’t. See your life fresh—as if for the first time. Take inventory of it. Especially the small things. See the people in it. Then go express that gratitude. There are very few compliments as powerful to receive as, “I’m so thankful you are part of my life.”
Keep in touch
On the one hand, a break from school means a break from homework and studying and test-taking, but on the other hand, it means you aren’t seeing as much of your friends either. Suddenly socializing isn’t built into your schedule, and maybe that’s left you feeling a bit cut off. So call up a friend. Or find good company in a family member. Go see some Christmas lights together, or brave the shopping mall, eat a good meal. It doesn’t matter what you do together, as long as you’re enjoying each others’ company.
Be of service
Tis the season for giving back. Check in with your local charities for volunteering opportunities. Animal shelters, soup kitchens, retirement homes—all these places would really love your help this holiday season. One of the best ways to remind yourself just how valuable you are, is to go out and make a positive difference in someone else’s life. And who knows, maybe you’ll make some friends while you’re at it.
Being of service can happen inside your own home too. Chances are that everybody is feeling a bit stressed right now, and you can help lighten their loads by picking up some chores around the house, or running some errands. Help your parents prepare the thanksgiving meal. Find the quiet person at the holiday party and make him or her feel welcome and valuable.
If the holidays are triggering depression or anxiety, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better, try talking to a professional. Treatment is a gift you are so worthy of. Be kind to yourself this holiday season.
Join the conversation online and tell us how you stay well over the holidays, using the hashtags #BeWell and #BeHeard.
If you or someone you know is having a difficult time and would like to talk to someone about it, there are people who are there to help. For teens who want to talk to other teens, call Teen Line at 310-855-4673, or text TEEN to 839863. Another option is to text LA to 741741 to talk with a trained Crisis Counselor for free, 24/7. For more information check out www.crisistextline.org. If you or someone you
know are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Or chat online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org