A time to stay healthy in body and mind

We all hope the holidays will be a time of happiness, comfort, and harmony, yet often our anticipation and excitement can turn into feelings of stress, anxiety and or depression, on top of an array of demands. 

This year, we have had some additional challenges along the way. You may be feeling extra stress, burnout and worry due to the pandemic and trying to brainstorm creative ways to still feel connected to loved ones during this time of year.

Here are some tips that might help you get through the holiday season smoothly. 

• Have an attitude of gratitude and prioritize you. Make time for yourself to do the things you love to do around the holidays. Don’t abandon healthy habits and routines that make you feel good inside and out. Incorporate those activities into your days, even if it is for a short amount of time, and try to be consistent. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing, and restoring inner calm while also giving you a sense of purpose and hope.

• Decide upon your priorities and stick to them while still allowing yourself to find enjoyment and connection with loved ones during the holiday. Make time to stay healthy, maintain a normal sleep schedule, and exercise regularly while at the same time incorporating healthy food to your diet. Avoid excessive alcohol. 

• Stay organized by creating a checklist and spacing out items that need to get done. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.

• Focus on what is in your control and be responsible for how you behave. Try to accept family members and friends as they are and set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Try to be understanding if others get upset or distressed. We are all navigating this challenging time together, so chances are that others are feeling the effects of holiday stress and anxiety, too.

• Lastly, acknowledge your feelings and pay attention to your body’s needs. The holidays can bring up memories, emotions, and feelings that are sometimes unexpected. Seek out support through loved ones, the community, and or spiritual and professional affiliations. They can offer connection, support, and companionship. Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can still find ways to celebrate and feel connected while social distancing.

Some small ways to lift your spirits may be through simple acts of kindness, such as volunteering your time or doing something to help others, finding new ways to celebrate with loved ones such as virtual celebrations and traditions, homemade gift giving, and or driving around looking at Christmas lights.

This year, take control of the holidays. Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Be proactive. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during this holiday season.

Dr. Edgardo Trejo is the chairman of the Psychiatry Department at Dorchester’s Carney Hospital.