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Surviving the Holidays: 3 Important Steps

The holiday season is upon us, and for many, it can be a time of great joy and celebration. However, for others, the holidays can be a source of stress, anxiety, and even grief. With the added pressure of gift-giving, family gatherings, and end-of-year obligations, it’s no wonder that many people struggle surviving the holidays

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to handle the holiday season, here are a few tips from the staff at Hunter Health.

Step 1: Take Care of Yourself

The holiday season can be a particularly difficult time for those who are grieving. The festivities and celebrations can serve as a reminder of the loved one who is no longer with us.

“There can be many reminders of the ones that you have lost during these times, making your emotions magnified,” says Haley Potter, Integrated Care Consultant. “Grief and loneliness can be difficult to navigate. It can bring emotions like sadness, anger, worry, or even guilt. However, all of these emotions are okay, and these feelings are valid.”

It can also be helpful to reach out to friends and family for support and to remember to take care of oneself. This may include practicing self-care, such as exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating well.

“Make time to do things that you enjoy, and if you feel like you have the emotional capacity, remember, and celebrate the good times that you shared with those that you have lost,” Potter says.

Step 2: Focus on What Matters and Reach Out for Support

If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed or down during the holidays, Potter suggests considering any of these coping skills below.

  • Decide which traditions you would like to keep and which ones you would like to change.
  • Create a new tradition in memory of the person you lost.
  • If grieving a death, consider donating your loved one’s clothing to a homeless shelter this winter. This may spur you to go through their closets if you have been having a hard time facing this task.
  • Take baby steps and pace yourself. One day you may feel like being sociable and the other you may feel like curling up on the couch. It’s okay.
  • In the end, remember this: it’s okay to be happy. This doesn’t take away from how much you loved your spouse, parent, or other lost loved one.

And don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Surviving the holidays can involve talking to a trusted friend or family member, or speaking with a mental health professional. Hunter Health offers behavioral health and counseling services, and our Integrated Care Consultants will give you the tools and support you need so you don’t have to face the holiday season alone.

Step 3: Set Boundaries for your Health

In addition to setting aside time for relaxation, it’s also crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holiday season. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying hydrated. It’s easy to overindulge on sweet treats and cocktails during the holidays, but try balancing your desires with healthy meals and plenty of water.

“My advice for people trying to maintain a healthy diet is to try to compromise with carbs,” says Laurel Lueth, PA-C. “If you really want that dessert, skip the fried item on the menu or the carb that isn’t really worth it. And when you do eat carbs, try to stick to smaller portions. That way, you can still enjoy yummy food without overdoing it on the unhealthy stuff.”

Surviving the holidays means it’s important to set boundaries and say no when necessary. You don’t have to attend every holiday party or buy gifts for every person on your list. Prioritize the events and people that are most important to you, and don’t be afraid to politely decline invitations or requests that don’t align with your priorities.

“As much as we love all the delicious food that comes with the holidays, it’s important to remember that they’re really about spending time with the people you love and taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life,” says Lueth. “So don’t put too much pressure on yourself to try every single sweet that comes your way. It’s more important to take care of yourself and enjoy the season.”

Health: The holiday gift that keeps on giving

The staff at Hunter Health have provided these tips to help you in surviving the holidays and enjoying this special time of year. By taking care of yourself, setting boundaries, staying organized, focusing on what matters, and reaching out for support when you need it, you can make the most of the holiday season and start the new year off on the right foot.

If you need help with any of this, reach out to Hunter Health. Our unique integrated care model allows us to treat the mind, body, and spirit in the same appointment, all under one roof. It’s part of our commitment to improving the health and well-being of everyone in our community.

Remember that the holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, but it’s also okay to take a break and prioritize your own mental health. By following these tips, you’ll be surviving the holidays and hopefully can enjoy this special time of year a little bit more.

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