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Sweet biscuit sugar plum. Halvah chocolate bar jujubes. Dragée donut candy.

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Sweet biscuit sugar plum. Halvah chocolate bar jujubes. Dragée donut candy.

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4 things to keep in mind this holiday season

For a healthier & happier winter

For most people, the holidays look very different this year. As we continue to adjust to our current reality, it’s important that we also work to maintain our mental health. From fears of the pandemic, the isolating effects of social distancing, confronting and relearning racial injustice in the U.S., natural disasters, financial struggles, and the stress of the presidential election, it’s no surprise that anxieties are high for many of us. Even without the pandemic to consider, we have to acknowledge the inevitable stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression that can come up for many people during the colder months and the holidays. This time of year is hard, and if you’re struggling right now, this is for you. Today we share 4 tips to help protect your mental health during and after the 2020 holiday season. 

1. Self-compassion. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in an argument that’s escalated quickly and gotten you nowhere. Yes? Same. While nearly half of the adults in the U.S. say they are refraining from discussing politically charged topics with someone as a result of something they said, either online or in person, some of us find difficult conversations inevitable, especially during the holidays. If you decide to have hard conversations with your loved ones, here are a few quick tips to avoid a complete disaster:

  • Note in advance what your goal is for the conversation.

  • Set boundaries ahead of time. Know when enough is enough.

  • Listen respectfully to their perspective.

  • Speak calmly, use “I” statements. 

If you find yourself regressing around your family, remind the younger parts of you to know that you are okay now. Update them on how you’ve grown and let them know you are healing. If you’re participating in a socially distanced celebration, work on setting the intention to cultivate your self-compassion or “higher self” ahead of time. Write affirmations or mantras, write your younger self a letter telling them about yourself now, or fold a piece of paper in half, write a list of doubts or worries in one column and opposing statements in the other. 


I am worried that I will feel too sensitive and be triggered by something or someone. 

I know that my sensitivity is radical, it’s important and sacred. My triggers are valid, AND I am capable of observing the situation and reacting compassionately, even if that means physically distancing myself from the situation. 

2. Self-care. So much pressure exists during this season. The pressure to buy gifts, the pressure to have a perfect family, the pressure to always be grateful and happy. When we focus only on living up to all of those expectations, we leave little time for checking in with ourselves mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

If you can, block ten minutes to an hour a every day or two dedicated to self-care. This means anything that will benefit you and your mental health. Mindfully cooking a nutritious meal, adopting a meditation or yoga practice, asking for a friend to watch the kids so you can shower, rest, or do something you enjoy like drawing or exercising.

Self-care doesn’t only mean bubble baths and face masks, do whatever you need to do to honor your health and happiness. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, notice how you’re breathing and speaking to yourself. When we are more connected with ourselves, we are better at connecting with others.    

3. Your boundaries are sacred. Only YOU get to define your boundaries. With many polarizing beliefs about the pandemic and political state of the U.S., disagreements about how to handle the holidays are not unlikely to come up. Remember that you have the choice to do what is the best and safest for you. Identify your triggers, create healthy boundaries around them, name them, communicate them, and honor them. Click here for more on how to set and uphold boundaries. 

4. Family isn’t always blood. Yes, you can love your parents AND still be upset about things that they did or did not do. There is space to be both. However, if your boundaries have been communicated but have not been respected, it is okay for you to distance yourself. It is brave and courageous to walk away from unhealthy family environments. Remember, you are allowed to choose your own family based on how they treat you. You are allowed to start your own traditions, and you are also allowed to treat the holidays like any other time of the year. You are allowed to honor your peace. 

However you’re spending the holidays this year, know that you are not alone. 


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