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Anxiety, Depression and Self-care: Sticking to a Schedule to Survive the Holidays

With the holidays less than one week away, I am aware of the need to schedule my time. Because the holidays are difficult for me, I find that if I plan everything, I have a schedule to follow when the hard times hit. And it’s imperative to my mental health that I stick to my schedule. Militantly. Like I have no choice. Like if I don’t do it, someone will get hurt. Like my life depends on it. 

planner, phone and pen
Photo by eleni koureas on Unsplash

I write down what I need to do. In my planner or in my phone. I schedule projects and buy materials ahead of time. I schedule times to be busy but allow times to rest. To cry when I need to cry. To take a bath when my body is suffering. To stimulate my mind to keep it from wandering. 

I set a timer or an alarm to stick to my schedule. To do one thing at a time. To help me stay present. So I’m not allowing myself to be thrown into the past or into the future. And so I’m not constantly checking the clock. Giving myself anxiety. Afraid I’ll miss an appointment or not have enough time to workout. Things I have to do to be okay. Things I can’t let slide.

I also schedule my time to avoid getting caught up and feeling like I wasted the day. But mostly, to avoid getting too anxious. Overwhelmed. Overexerting my energy. Getting caught in a trap of focusing so much on something that it doesn’t even make sense anymore. Because while that’s when many would walk away, that’s when I stay. Pushing myself even though what I’m doing no longer makes sense. Something that sticking to a schedule saves me from.

Scheduling also saves me from sitting in my depression. And from sliding into a downward spiral. Feeling flooded by my feelings. By sensory stimuli. By what I need to accomplish in a day. By the trauma I’m trying to recover from. If I stick to a schedule, it helps to keep me in check. And there’s something very gratifying about checking things off my list — allowing me to feel accomplished even during the most difficult times.

So in order to maintain my mental health over the holidays, here is my schedule: 

  • Meditate first thing in the morning. I find it clears the mental chaos I wake up with each morning and helps me set my intentions for the day. Not the things I want to do. The things I want to be. Kind of like scheduling for my soul. Click here if you’re just getting started with your meditation practice. 
  • Do yoga. To sync my mind, body and soul. To feel what my body is feeling. To connect. To release all my pain. 
  • Journal or write. Journaling is putting pen to paper without having a direction or worrying about spelling (which I’m naturally terrible at). Letting your thoughts wander and capturing your feelings. Writing is for a specific purpose. Like when I wrote this blog. Even if you don’t do the latter, you should do the former. Writing is therapy. Click here for more on yoga, meditation and journaling for mental health. 
  • Exercise. Just like doing yoga, exercising gives my body the movement it needs to stay regulated. I find that if I schedule it earlier in the day, I’m more likely to do it than if it’s later. And I keep my mini trampoline out so when I feel scattered, I can jump to reregulate my nervous system no matter what time of day.
  • Shower. I find that transitions are important to have in my schedule. Having something that takes me from one thing to the next. And showering is one of those things for me. It’s one of the best self-care acts I can complete in a day.
  • Bathe. When my body feels tense, achy or sore. I use Epsom salts, essential oils and sometimes add baking soda for extra detoxification. 
  • Do household projects or run errands. Because I have time off over the holidays (which I’m not complaining about), I find it best to schedule projects to keep my mind and body busy. So there’s not too much downtime, which is often unsettling.
  • Cook dinner. Having a set dinner time helps me transition from day to night. My husband and I prefer to eat later so that once we’ve cooked, eaten and cleaned up, we’re done and can relax for the night.
  • Unwind from the day. Watch TV, journal, do yoga, read. As another transition, I find I am less antsy and more likely to fall asleep (with the help of some natural supplements) if I do things to help myself unwind. Otherwise, I could be up all night, messing with my sleep and throwing off my schedule for the next day. Defeating the purpose of sticking to a schedule altogether. 

I hope you find ways to schedule time for yourself and to feel mentally healthy during the holidays. Self-care is the best gift you can give to yourself — and you deserve it. 

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Anxiety, Depression and Self-care: Sticking to a Schedule to Survive the Holidays

Jenna Grace

Jenna Grace is a writer and educator with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) diagnoses. She writes and speaks about topics including healing from trauma, coping with neurological disorder and practicing mindfulness in order to help others and to explore new meaning. Visit her website for more of her stories.

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APA Reference
Grace, J. (2019). Anxiety, Depression and Self-care: Sticking to a Schedule to Survive the Holidays. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Dec 2019
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