Over eighteen months into the COVID-19 crisis, life looks a little different. After a year of lockdowns, video calls instead of physical meetings, and so much more, we could potentially end up with a mental health crisis to boot. This certainly isn’t helped by the shorter, darker days as we head into the winter months.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot from us in the past year: from a lack of access to face-to-face mental health services and support so many rely on to the lives of loved ones. This holiday season, take the time to look after yourself and find ways to maintain your mental health, and manage the ever-evolving situation with the pandemic. These five tips on maintaining your mental health, lowering your heart rate, and grounding yourself are good starting points, but it’s also important to seek medical support and help from others when needed.
Top 5 tips for maintaining your mental health this holiday season
Any worries about potential holiday lockdowns and anxieties at the prospect of (maybe) not seeing family again this holiday season are legitimate. Unfortunately, none of us know how the next few weeks will play out, but these 5 steps may help relieve just a little of your anxiety and let you take a positive step towards maintaining your mental health.
- Write it all down. A great way to ground yourself and help manage your mental health is to write a couple of different lists. These include:
- A list of things you are grateful for. The reality is, it can be so easy to forget about the nice things in life when we are surrounded by the doom and gloom news and memories of a terrible pandemic year. Making a list of things you are grateful for, from the Thanksgiving turkey to the brightly lit Christmas tree, is a great way to remind yourself there is still some good in the world despite COVID-19.
- A list of things you are worried or anxious about. Sometimes it can make a difference to get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper. What you choose to do with this list is up to you, whether you therapeutically burn it or symbolically throw it away.
- A list of everything you need to get ready for the holiday season. Whether it’s making sure your prescriptions are up to date, you have face masks to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, or enough food for the holiday meal, writing a list will help keep you organized and relieve some of the stress and anxiety of this time of year. Keep in mind that with the current COVID situation, all your plans might be adjusted or canceled, so be ready for this and have Plan B prepared to avoid frustration.
- Adjust your diet to improve your health – physically and mentally. Filling your diet with healthier options and limiting your intake of sugary or high-fat processed foods can be a great help for your mental health, not just your physical health. The Mind Diet is a great option to follow if you’re keen to have more guidance on what to eat, including the items listed below. Why not add them to your holiday shopping list and discover some new recipes to try that use these yummy ingredients? Many people find cooking therapeutic, which can boost your mental health.
- Fruit and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Make time for you. The anxiety around COVID-19 can set you on edge, and sometimes the only way to bring your mental health on track is to take a step back from everything and find a way to breathe and ground yourself. Perhaps this is going for a short walk or having a cup of tea. Maybe it’s as simple as taking a refreshing shower to clean your body and clear your mind.
- Connect with others. This may mean keeping in touch with your nearest and dearests and being honest with them about your mental health. Or, If you prefer, get involved in a local mental health support group. Since the start of the pandemic, many services have moved online – but they are still there. Spending quality time with others can be a great way to remind yourself of the good things in life, as well as helping you to get outside of your own head, even if just for a little while. You should always follow COVID-19 guidelines while socializing, and if you’re anxious about going out in public, then start small: try video calls, or wear a mask and choose large, open spaces with lots of room to distance if you do meet anyone face-to-face. Keep a mask on and consider choosing locations that you can walk or cycle to avoid public transport.
- Get in some regular exercise. If you can try your hand at dancing, this is one of the best forms of exercise to support mental health and a great way to get in the festive spirit! Pop on some Christmas songs and dust off those dancing shoes. It doesn’t matter if you’re out with friends or dancing alone at home, the important thing is to get moving. If dancing isn’t for you, a brisk walk in the fresh air can do a world of good for your physical and mental health and is a great way to see the beauty of nature during winter. Why not choose a route to take you past houses with colorful Christmas decorations to get you in the spirit? If the thought of going outdoors during the pandemic is triggering, think of ways you can exercise in your garden. Plan your exercise in a way that makes you feel more comfortable – such as wearing a mask, going outside at times when it’s likely to be quieter, and showering and changing your clothes as soon as you get back home.
There are so many ways to take better care of our mental health this holiday season. From straightforward self-care tips to dietary adjustments, we’ve shared just a few of our top tips, and we wish you a happy, mentally healthy holiday season.
About the Author: Naomi Hassan is a 30-year-old wife and mother of four who loves to write for her blog “Me Becoming Mum” and others. She has always loved the written word and was an avid reader and writer from a young age. Now she’s living her best life creating content to be enjoyed all over the world. Naomi writes for many self-care brands, such as Dove, Love Beauty and Planet, and many others inspired by a natural and healthy approach to self-care day-to-day routines.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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