How to prioritize your mental health this holiday season 

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The holidays come with their own amount of stress, but when already struggling with mental health, they can become even more difficult. What can be done? 

When it comes to the end of the year, there’s often more going on than any one person can possibly hope to get done. With all the relatives, gifts and parties, it can be easy to forget to take care of oneself. Here are some ways to take care of your mental health amid all the seasonal chaos: 

  • If you always find yourself feeling down around this time of year, recognize that you don’t have to force yourself to be cheery or get “in the mood.” According to McLean Hospital, “Recognize that you don’t need to force yourself to be happy and that it’s good to acknowledge feelings that aren’t joyful; remember that you are not alone in feeling this way.” 
  • Develop a plan for when you start feeling stressed, sad, or lonely. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains, “This plan may include calling a friend or family member, going for a walk, engaging in an activity that brings joy, or watching a favorite movie.” The key is planning for this ahead of time. 
  • Two other related things you can do include maintaining healthy habits and setting boundaries, much like you would during the rest of the year. The National Alliance on Mental Illness says, “For many people, the holidays lead to a massive disruption in your day-to-day routine. … [Keeping up healthy habits is] critical to keeping your mental health on track.” 
  • One other option, McLean Hospital points out, is to not celebrate at all in the traditional ways in order to take care of your mental health. “[Y]ou might [instead] opt for an activity you actually feel like doing—whether it’s making a favorite dish or having a Netflix marathon.”  

Whatever you choose to do, try to enjoy yourself during the holidays. They don’t last forever, so you might as well enjoy the season. Remember to take care of yourself, too.