Living with Chronic Illness during the holiday season can be difficult if you don’t have a plan. These 12 wellness tips for the holidays will help you create a plan of action for the hectic holiday season. You are probably wondering, “How can I manage my mental health at Christmas.” Managing expectations during the holidays
As the holiday season approaches, I know I am going to have to prepare and make a plan for successfully managing the holidays with my chronic and mental illnesses.
Since being diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder earlier this year, I realize how practicing self-care is going to keep me from relapsing into another manic episode. And that self-care is about my physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
The holidays can absolutely wreck your well-being if you are not smart about the way you manage the holidays with a chronic or mental illness.
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Self-Work with Dr. Margaret Rutherford, and she had some excellent tips for managing the holidays with a chronic illness (or mental illness.)
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Mental Health During the Holidays
Learning to manage expectations during the holidays is one of the best mental health tips at Christmas. If you are living with
1. Honor Where You Are in Life
The first wellness tip for the holidays is to honor where you are in life at this moment. Some years are harder than others. Maybe you experienced the death of a loved one, or maybe you are in the middle of a tough struggle with a mental illness. The holidays don’t always come at the right time. It’s okay to not be okay during the holiday season. Make sure you keep from judging yourself and remember you don’t have control of your circumstances.
2. Change Your Expectations of Yourself During the H
We all feel the expectations our culture has when it comes to the holiday season. And often we accept and try to “live up” to these expectations. But guess what? Do these expectations make life better? Or more stressful?
You can often get more joy out of more simple yet meaningful activities and traditions during the holiday season.
Example: Do you really have to bake a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, basted golden brown that takes days to prepare and hours and hours to cook? How many people do you know that get excited about eating turkey. Probably not many. What they get excited about is the tradition. You can easily substitute a family dinner favorite!
3. Give Yourself
So instead of
This may mean cutting out some activities and choosing a few that you really focus on and make special for yourself and your family. Often times, this actually provides more treasured memories.
And you might even create new customs and traditions that may never have occurred to you if you didn’t have to make accommodations because of your chronic illness.
How to combat stress during the holidays?
Successfully managing the holidays with a chronic or mental illness hinges upon taking care of yourself first. This is not being selfish. We all have physical, mental, and emotional needs that we should continually take care of to be the healthiest. Taking care of those needs is the best way to combat stress during the holidays.
4. Keep Up with Self-Care
Self-care is usually the first thing you sacrifice during the holiday season. It is often the most overlooked but simple thing that you can do for yourself to keep stress at bay. Hopefully, you already have a solid self-care routine, but if not, you definitely want to read this post about creating a self-care plan.
Taking care of yourself can mean eating regular and nutritious meals, meditating, taking naps, doing activities that are relaxing and bring you joy. Keeping up with good self-care activities will leave you refreshed and with more energy so you can tackle the tasks for the holidays.
5. Know Your Limits
At the beginning of the holiday season, you may have some grand ideas of all that you want to do, see, cook, host. But don’t start with those “big ideas.” Start with taking a realistic assessment of what you can handle physically, emotionally, and mentally. Then, consider what things are most important to you and your family for the holidays. It is better to start with a simple and easy plan and then if you find you have a little more energy, you can add activities as you go.
6. Plan Time for Rest
When you find yourself in the hectic rhythm of the holiday season, make sure you plan for some downtime. And naps! It is so easy to get caught up in holiday activities each and every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Purposefully choose the most important holiday gatherings or activities so that you are not running from one thing to another.
Keeping some relaxing pockets of time during the holidays is a great way to combat stress and you’ll find it will help your husband and kids too!
How can I relax and enjoy the holidays?
You may think that there is no way to truly relax and enjoy the holidays when living with
7. Come Up with a Plan Ahead of T
Having a plan going into the holiday season is going to set you up for success as well as lower your stress and anxiety. Take a step back, consider all of your options, and create a plan that you will commit to sticking to it.
8. Stay O
Get a notebook, binder, or use the notes app on your phone. Break down all the activities, commitments, gatherings, meal prep, gift-giving that you know will happen this holiday season. Keep track of details of each and keep focused on simplifying every possible way. Then you don’t have to rely on your memory–hello brain fog!
9. Decide Which Holiday Traditions or Rituals Best Fit Your Needs This Year
Every holiday season is different. Some years may be more stressful than others. That is most likely dependent on your current state of health. It could also be affected by a death or other traumatic events that happen before or during the holidays.
Realize its okay to change things up from year to year. You don’t have to do all of your holiday traditions every year. Take what works for you this year, and throw out the rest (at least temporarily.) You will be surprised how you are better able to relax and enjoy yourself.
How Can I Manage My Mental Health at Christmas?
It doesn’t matter whether you have a mental or chronic illness, your mental health during the holidays can really take a beating. So you might be wondering “How Can I Manage My Mental Health at Christmas?” (and other holidays. Well, it starts by being proactive. Use the following mental health tips at Christmas this year and start a new tradition of successfully managing your mental health, even during the holidays.
Well, it starts by being proactive. Use the following mental health tips at Christmas this year and start a new tradition of successfully managing your mental health, even during the holidays.
Start by taking a “proactive” attitude. If you find yourself just reacting to everything that doesn’t go smooth and easy, you are starting out behind the game. Take time to assess what you need to maintain your mental health during the holidays and especially Christmas.
10. Let Your Family and Friends Know What You Need to Stay Healthy this Holiday Season
You may be embarrassed or afraid to be honest with friends and family about exactly where you are. Your friends and family want to support you in whatever you are going through. Let them. And, if for some reason they don’t understand and are not supportive, then keep them at arm’s length and bow out of gatherings with them.
11. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Be honest with yourself, and your friends and family. If they are in your support system, they will be more than willing to accommodate your needs and help you any way they can.
I know we want to do things for ourselves and it can be hard to admit when you need help. But managing the holidays with a chronic or mental illness, takes being willing to ask for help when you need it.
12. Don’t Feel Guilty
I know, feeling guilty seems to come along with being chronically or mentally ill. It is hard to realize you did not create your illness or diagnosis. It is something physiological that we can’t help or prevent. So leave your guilt at the door. And don’t forget that holidays are stressful for everyone-from the “super soccer moms” to the “cool, calm, and collected business executive.
Read More About Chronic Illness Holiday Hacks and Gifts for Chronic & Mental Illness . . .
- 15 Simple Chronic Illness Holiday Hacks to Minimize Stress and Fatigue
- 11 Deeply Thoughtful Holiday Gifts for Someone with Depression (Great Ideas for Someone Special)
- 15 Awesome Arthritis Christmas Gift Ideas for Someone with Joint Pain (and Stiffness)
- 11 Treasure-Worthy Christmas Gifts for Someone with Chronic Pain (That You Would Never Think Of)