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Your Mental Health

Mental health and the holidays

The hustle and bustle of the season is upon us. Bells are jingling, Christmas trees are flying out of the lots, the malls are packed and there’s nary a parking spot to be found. It’s time to take a step back and plan to make this season a truly joyful one.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain your mental health during this busy season:

1. Ease up, big spender.

It may sound obvious, but a huge problem for many people is over-spending during the holidays. Pressure to get extravagant gifts for loved ones often sends us reaching for our credit cards and charging a lot more than we can comfortably afford. Resulting tension and stress can put a damper on holiday cheer and leave us strained in the New Year.

2. Stop over-booking.

Overbooking is a common problem at this time of year. Family visits, dinners and parties are all great, but cramming in too much can leave us exhausted and resentful that there is no time left to simply relax at home. Evaluate how much scheduling is enough for you and politely decline the excess.

3. Be with the people you love.

Make a point of spending your holidays with the people you love. Sometimes we feel obligated to participate in functions we find extremely stressful. Perhaps there is a lot of strain in extended family relationships past the point of reconciliation. Don’t put yourself in a no win situation. Spend time with people you enjoy being around and say no to invitations that will only cause conflict and grief.

4. Do something for someone else.

This can be as simple as inviting a lonely co-worker for supper or spending time volunteering with one of the many deserving non-profit organizations in town. Taking some time to help others during the holiday season will be appreciated and may also help you feel good.

5. Planning is a good thing.

One easy way of keeping the holidays cheerful is to have activities planned in advance. Leaving room for spontaneity is always good, but having a general plan for days away from work is very helpful for reducing stress. Try to make sure there is some variety in your planning so that everyone in the family is able to do something they enjoy.

6. Be realistic.

Although we like to feel as though we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, there are limitations. Know yours. If you make plans you can’t afford or don’t have time for, you will end up feeling frustrated and disappointed. There are many enjoyable ways to spend the holidays that are inexpensive and accessible.

7. Do the things you like.

We’ve all experienced the feeling of obligation to attend a particular party or function over the holidays. In order to keep the season cheerful, try to avoid doing things simply out of obligation. If you will not get any enjoyment out of an activity, it is usually okay to politely decline.

8. Gluttony is not your friend.

This is the tip no one really wants to hear over the holidays. There are so many tasty treats and festive beverages that most of us tend to over-indulge at least a little. Try to avoid this if you can. Moderation is the key. You will enjoy the holidays a lot more if you’re not sick… and your waist-line will also thank you for your self-control.

9. Get some rest.

Make sure you get enough sleep and relaxation during the holidays. This is a time for restoring yourself so that when you return to the daily routine in the New Year you feel regenerated and ready for a challenge.

10. Attend to your spiritual needs – whatever those may be.

If you celebrate a religious or spiritual holiday at this time of year, make sure to give yourself adequate time and space to do so with meaning. This may involve taking time to attend a service or simply ensuring you have some quiet time for contemplation.

Have a great holiday and best of the season to you.



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About the author...

Paul Latimer has over 25 years experience in clinical practice, research and administration. After obtaining his medical degree from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, he did psychiatric training at Queen's, Oxford and Temple Universities. After his residency he did a doctorate in medical science at McMaster University where he was also a Medical Research Council of Canada Scholar. Since 1983 he has been practicing psychiatry in Kelowna, BC where he has held many administrative positions and has done numerous clinical trials. He has published many scientific papers and one book on the psychophysiology of the functional bowel disorders. He is an avid photographer, skier and outdoorsman.



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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