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The Holidays And Your Mental Health

By Samantha Boone MA, LMFTA

During the holiday season, the month of December brings the joy and excitement of parties, gatherings, shopping, and last but not least, the food. Most of our attention is centered around menus, gift lists, host options, and schedules. We race through the holidays checking off our to-do lists frantically, making sure we have all the gifts for cousins, nieces and nephews, and parents. We rabidly plan the menu for a dozen meals. We focus on getting from one gathering to the next, sometimes without taking even a breath. Suddenly, its January and we are back to work, school, and the real world. What if our intentionality with ourselves, our friends, and our family, could be slower, less frenzied? As we approach the fast and furious last few weeks of December here are three themes to keep in mind. 

The first is priorities. Reflect on your schedule and your to-do list to see what matters most to you and your family. Commit to your top priorities and give those the attention they need. The other things don’t have to be removed from your schedule, but hold them looser. If you have time to make that last batch of fudge, great. Just make sure your top priorities are done first. 

The second is self-care. We often forget about our normal routine during the holidays due to the craziness and excitement. Give yourself room to have fun, but also be mindful of your mind and body. This means you might need to leave a gathering a little early. Instead of getting to your parent’s house early to help cook, it might look like you sleeping in. If you need some quiet time during gatherings, step into an empty room or take a brief walk. Take time to refuel so you have energy to give to others. 

The third is quality. Remember that the quality of your time with family and friends is important. The cliché phrase remains true; quality over quantity. Slow down enough to play with a kid cousin. Take time to listen to how someone’s work is going. Sit long enough to capture the memory of that goofy uncle who always falls asleep and snores (mine is Uncle Marty). In twenty years, the amount of presents you gave or the burnt pie will be a fleeting thought. What we tend to remember are the traditions and memories with our loved ones, give your time to the things that matter most. 

Happy Holidays! 

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