By: Vanessa Flannery, DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Fresh Start Health, Grayson
The month of December often brings hustle and bustle as we celebrate various holidays and prepare to start a new year. This time of the year can sometimes lead us to some complex feelings – excitement, stress, joy, worry, fear, hope, etc. You might begin to notice yourself experiencing a combination of these emotions and need extra support. Check out these 25 tips for making the month of December a little less overwhelming:
- Keep a gratitude journal. A great way to start the month is by keeping a gratitude journal. Include things you’re grateful for as well as things you accomplished each day. This mindset of gratitude will help you stay mindful of the good things and positively impact your mood.
- Make a new holiday recipe. Cookies, pies, breads, or anything else! Trying a new recipe will challenge you and keep your mind active. You might even end up finding a new favorite treat!
- Get creative: writing and crafting. Try your hand at poetry or painting. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked. These activities help you express yourself through art and keep your creativity flowing.
- Think of something you want to improve. Maybe you want to pick back up the guitar or practice a foreign language that you haven’t spoken in a while. Whatever it is, challenging yourself and finding success will feel rewarding!
- Show love to someone. Maybe it’s been a while since you reached out to an old friend or loved one. Go out of your way to make someone feel seen and loved – it will make both of you feel better. Even something as simple as a thank you card can be very meaningful.
- Make a new music playlist. Make a mix of your old and new favorite songs, and take some time to listen to it. It can put you in a great mood and even take you on a fun walk down memory lane.
- Write about a fun memory you have. Focusing on positive past experiences will lift your spirits, even if you’re currently experiencing difficult feelings. Taking the time to write this out will help you put yourself back in that happy mindset.
- At least for one day, take a break from your phone. Stay away from social media and the endless news, whether good or bad. You will have the opportunity to spend more time getting to know yourself and thinking of other ways to celebrate the holidays.
- Cross something off your to-do list. We sometimes tend to leave multiple responsibilities looming over our heads, especially during the holidays. Take the time to cross one thing off your to-do list, putting in the work now so you can relax later.
- Relax in your preferred way. Whether you want to go out for a scenic drive or stay in for a warm bath, take some time to just relax. This moment of peace will reenergize you and make holiday responsibilities easier to handle.
- Share a story of how you’ve overcome. It always feels good to celebrate the ways you’ve pressed on through life’s challenges. Sharing these stories deepens connections with others and gives you a deeper appreciation of yourself.
- Remember that holiday stress will pass. The holidays aren’t everyone’s favorite time of year. If that sounds like you, remember that they only last so long and they’ll be over as quickly as they came. If you need to sit them out and feel that you can, that’s okay.
- Prep for the week. Getting ready for the week ahead of time will save you a lot of stress throughout. Take time during the weekend to meal prep all your lunches or set aside what clothes you want to wear each day.
- Opt out. You don’t have to say yes to everything. Look at your schedule and see if there is anything you can clear out. Prioritize the things that matter most.
- Practice restitution. If you have an unresolved conflict with someone that’s causing you stress, do what you need to do to settle it. If you’re in the wrong, apologize sincerely. If they’re in the wrong, do your best to forgive them even if they don’t apologize first.
- Call or video chat with a friend. The ongoing pandemic makes it difficult to see friends. Fortunately, technology still allows us to stay connected with each other. Be intentional in setting up a time to catch up with a friend via phone or video call.
- Go for a walk in nature. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost overall well-being. Take 30 minutes to walk outside and engage all your senses with your surroundings.
- Step outside your comfort zone. When you try something new, you have the potential to find a new activity you love. Even if it’s something that scares you, it will likely be worth trying.
- Watch your favorite movie. Sometimes you just need to relax with something familiar. If you have a movie you can quote the entire script of, sit down and simply enjoy watching it.
- De-clutter your space. Clutter can lead to stress. Spend some time cleaning up your space, even throwing away things you never use. You’ll feel more at-peace once you’re done.
- Sit alone with yourself. Sometimes the person who can lift you up the most is yourself. Get away from all the noise and spend 30 minutes alone with your thoughts.
- Make housework fun. If you have work to do, you might as well make it fun! Whether you’re cleaning your house alone or with family, turn on some music and dance and sing while you clean.
- Control your breathing. If you’re feeling stressed, try to calm down by using breathing exercises. Breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and repeat.
- Celebrate some good news. Some days it seems like the bad news never stops. Take some time to seek out good things that are happening in the world and avoid the bad news. This will give you more to celebrate and make you more hopeful.
- Find reasons to laugh. Reminisce on some of your favorite family memories or watch your favorite comedy. Letting yourself have some good laughs will always lift your spirits.
If the holidays have you experiencing increased mental health challenges, Fresh Start Health Centers is here to help, call 606-225-8200 ext 114 for an appointment.