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Mental Health Checklist for the Holidays
1. Make a Holiday Plan
Whether celebrating with others or on your own, knowing that you have a plan can help you have a positive experience and reduce stress. Decide how you will spend your time in advance and take the steps to make it happen. Don’t wait until the last minute to reach out to solidify activities. Being prepared for the season is one way to take care of yourself and move through the season with a sense of calm.
2. Stay Connected
Support looks different for everyone! We may find support in family, friends, colleagues, faith, mental health professionals, and in our community. Let people in your life know you might need help staying connected in the coming weeks and reach out to people in your life who may need support. Keep numbers on hand of people and resources that can lend support: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741).
3. Try Something New
Have more time on your hands this holiday season? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Make it part of your holiday plan! Try using the time to develop a new skill or brush up on an old one, dive into a hobby, get tech savvy, or even listen to a different genre of music. Learning something takes our minds away from daily worries and provides us with a sense of achievement.
4. Get Up and Move
Physical activity and natural light trigger our brains feel good mechanisms. Get up and move to improve your mood. Take a walk, a jog, bike or get back to basics with some heart healthy jumping jacks! If you can’t be outdoors, try relaxing by a window during daylight hours. A little light and movement can go a long way in improving our outlook.
5. Help Others
Giving your time and energy to others is a surefire way to promote your own health and happiness, even in simple ways, such as picking up groceries for a neighbour or signing up to support a cause you care about. Volunteering in your community or finding ways to help those in need helps you stay connected. Need some ideas? Try volunteermatch.org to find both virtual and in-person options.
6. Create a Calm Toolkit
We all feel anxious sometimes. The holiday season can amplify those feelings. Keep a list of activities that you find calming such as music, walks, deep breathing, or visualizing your happy place and refer to it when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Knowing what calms you in a time of need can really make a difference.
7. Go Offline
Pay attention to how your media use makes you feel. If it raises your stress levels, take regular breaks from content, especially before going to bed. Use your device’s wellness settings to set a schedule for time away from the screen or for daily limits. Remember: life happens while we’re busy staring at our screens!
8. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude brings us happiness! Start with finding one thing that makes you smile, laugh or feel good and build it into a daily practice. When done consistently, this exercise helps the brain seek out positive thoughts and can reduce feelings of stress and depression. Whether it’s making a list, exchanging gratitude texts or emails with family or friends, or simply letting someone know they are important to you, it all contributes to a more positive frame of mind.