8 Tips to Navigate Mental Health and the Holidays

Cassie DeVera - The Upside Blog | Vitacost.com/blog

by | Updated: December 1st, 2021 | Read time: 3 minutes

The holidays are full of family time, feasts and gifts – all good things! But with the good can come an expected dose of holiday stress. Maybe you’re planning the party, gift shopping on a budget or just navigating a holiday season during a pandemic. Self-care is important, especially now. Be mindful of your needs and consistent in the routines that maintain your mental and physical health. Here are eight friendly reminders that will help you navigate holiday stress like a pro.

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Mental Health and the Holidays

1. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Days are shorter, making it tempting to hit snooze and sleep in. However, a varying sleep schedule can mess with your natural circadian rhythm. This is why you wake up feeling groggy and even more tired when you sleep in. Instead of sleeping in, stick to your routine and wake up around the same time every day – even on the weekends.

2. Resist the urge to indulge in emotional eating

The holidays can bring about many different feelings, and emotional times can lead to emotional eating. Resist the urge to eat your feelings away! Before filling your plate with seconds (or thirds), take a moment to ask yourself if you’re still hungry. Practice mindful eating and consider working with a registered dietitian if you need to reshape your relationship with food.

3. Don’t just buy something because it’s on sale

Tempted with end-of-year sales? You’re not alone! The brain’s pleasure center – the nucleus accumbens – lights up when contemplating a purchase, which can drive the impulse to buy something you don’t need. Treat yourself, your family and friends for the holidays, but remember to consult your budget and your wants versus needs before checking out.

4. Get out of your house and spend time outdoors – even if it’s cold!

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that when you spend the majority of your time at home, you are more likely to feel depressed, irritable and experience sleep disturbances. Combat bad vibes! Go for a walk outdoors, dine outside with your friends and family and get your daily dose of vitamin D.

5. Make time for physical activity

Check off tips four and five by exercising outdoors. If you’re a newbie to working out, start small. You will be more likely to adhere to an exercise routine if you keep your goals practical and realistic. A simple 20-minute walk around your neighborhood is still much better than sitting at your computer or staring at your phone for those 20 minutes!

6. Eat a wholesome diet

As the food writer Michael Pollan once said, “Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.” It’s a succinct mantra that can help throughout the holiday season and beyond. Remember to stay hydrated and stock your fridge and pantry with “mostly plants” to keep your belly full of the good stuff. Pressed for time during the week? Spend a few hours meal prepping on your weekends off.

7. Practice self care

The holidays are often focused on giving gifts and spending time with others, and it’s easy to forget to make time for yourself. Leave at least 15 minutes for self-care time every day to ensure that you have a portion of the day to focus on yourself.

8. Limit your screen time

Finally, try to limit the amount of time you spend on your devices. There are so many healthier alternatives to screen time. Exercise, read a book and meet up with friends and family. Our laptops, phones, tablets and televisions will all still be there when we return.

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