The holiday season can be overwhelming and tough to deal with for those of us with mental illness, so it becomes even more vital at this time of year to set clear boundaries, both with yourself and with other people.
1. Don’t overspend
The pressure to buy gifts for loved, to buy decorations, to attend Christmas or New Years events, and to buy Christmas food and drinks can be overwhelming. Ensure that you know what your budget is, set this as a firm boundary with yourself and don’t feel pressured, either from yourself or from others, to overspend.
2. Maintain a good sleep routine
With holiday parties, relatives visiting and all sorts going on, it can be tough to maintain a good sleep routine. Set boundaries with those in your home and with yourself to keep a reasonable sleep routine for the sake of your mental health, even if it’s a little more flexible than usual.
3. Take time for yourself
If you feel stress and anxiety rising when you’re spending time with others, don’t be afraid to take time out for yourself. You could go for a walk to get away or go into another room; don’t feel that you need to be social for longer than you feel comfortable with. Setting this boundary clearly with your loved ones in advance and explaining why it’s important is helpful.
4. Say ‘no’
You don’t have to say yes to every invite you get or to every visit from loved ones; be sure that you say no if you feel that something is too much. Your mental health should come first and those you love will have to understand that; remember that your health is the priority.
5. Have food and drink in moderation
It can be all too easy to drink too much alcohol or eat too many foods during the festive season; remember that this can be detrimental to mental health. Alcohol is a depressant and being out of control can have a big impact on your mental health; if you struggle with unhealthy coping strategies or food-related mental illness symptoms, then the amount of food around can be tough to deal with. Set boundaries if you need to with your loved ones in advance, and be sure that you have agreed with yourself to keep things in moderation. It’s all about you and what you feel is best for your situation.
6. Don’t compare yourself to others
Seeing other’s having the ‘perfect’ Christmas or New Year, or seeing them with the ‘perfect’ family can really put a lot of pressure on you during the holidays. Try to focus on what is happening in your life rather than comparing yourself to others; no one is perfect and everyone has their own issues, judging ourselves against other people is never a helpful comparison. It’s your happiness and mental health that is most important.
Remember that if you’re struggling, please reach out for help: talk to a loved one, call your mental health professionals or call a hotline.
I hope you all stay safe and warm this Christmas, that you are able to enjoy some of the festivities and are able to spend time with loved ones.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, mentally-healthy New Year.