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Here's How To Maintain Your Mental Health Over The Holidays

With personal and professional social events to plan and attend, the holidays can intensify feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

12/05/2017 13:05 EST | Updated 12/05/2017 13:27 EST

As 2017 comes to an end, we begin to reflect on our year and prepare for the holidays. No doubt you've heard the festive music and seen the bright decorations by now. And if you've seen any advertisements, they probably feature smiling faces and holiday joy.

But with so much cheer all around, this time of year can be a serious strain on one's mental health. With personal and professional social events to plan and attend, the holidays can intensify feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. That's why I want to discuss some common causes of stress and anxiety this holiday season, and share tips on how to minimize the negative effects that may result.

Be Careful Not To Take On Too Much

One of the most challenging aspects of the holidays is the pressure to commit significant amounts of money and time. Between gift giving and spending time with family and friends, sometimes it can feel like you've bit off more than you can chew. As such, it's important to commit to both a budget and a schedule this holiday season. By planning a budget in advance, and sticking to it, you can avoid unnecessary expenses that will get you into financial trouble.

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Furthermore, creating a schedule will ensure that you find the perfect balance between attending holiday events and having personal time for rest and relaxation. Also, don't feel bad if you can't attend every party or event you've been invited to! People are generally understanding, and they're likely in the exact same boat as you.

Enjoy the Time You Spend With Family

The holidays offer quality time to spend with family while many have time off from work or school. In certain cases, spending the holidays with family can bring feelings of tension, stress and sadness. For some families, there may be specific personalities or past differences that could lead to conflict between family members. If this rings true for you, it can be helpful to set boundaries. Try to stay away from certain topics or situations that could become heated, and don't be afraid to speak up or excuse yourself from a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.

For other families, the holidays can act as an unfortunate reminder of the loss of a loved one. While the holiday season may be a difficult time, it also offers the opportunity to create new traditions, especially those that honour a loved one and incorporate their interests.

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Don't Forget Your Healthy Habits

Everyone has their own traditions of how they spend the holidays, but there's usually a couple of activities we indulge in more than at any other time of the year: food and drink, and sometimes, lots of both. While I'm hardly one to take issue with some of the tasty holiday dishes or festive beverages at this time of year, the indulgence can create feelings of guilt and stress.

Try to remember a few healthy habits. For one, eat a healthy snack right before you go to a holiday event. This trick will ensure that you fit in a healthy option, but will also lessen your hunger and thus your urge to indulge in sweets!

Pace yourself when it comes to participating in alcohol consumption. Remember that alcohol numbs the senses, as it is a depressant. And, of course, I would be remiss not to remind you to always have a designated driver when you've been drinking alcohol.

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Additionally, incorporate some physical activity on your days off. Winter sports, or even a walk outside, are great forms of exercise to balance out some of the hearty meals you'll be eating.

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While stress and anxiety may feel inevitable during this time of year, it's important to remember the happiness that comes with it as well. There's bound to be positive moments in exchanging gifts, enjoying a delicious meal and spending time with family and friends you haven't seen in a while. So, if you keep these positives in mind, and follow the aforementioned tips to stay healthy this season, you'll be sure to enjoy the holiday cheer this December. Happy holidays!

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