Mental health and the holidays

'Tis the season for happiness, joy, sadness, loss, anger, anxiety and all the other big feelings.  

It’s important this holiday season that we start a new tradition. The tradition of “let’s take care of ourselves and others”. 

It starts with you. Slowing down so you can hear the other feelings is step one. Holidays create stress of hosting, the pressure of buying, exhaustion of doing it all, loss of loved ones, the anxiety of checklists. It’s ok to be happy and joyful, while also feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. What’s not ok is not making space for everything and ignoring the signs our body and mind are telling us is a recipe for trouble. Not only for ourselves, but for the littles who are watching and learning from us. 

Let’s create a new tradition… S.T.O.P 

  • Stop and slow down 
  • Treat yourself to a breath or a quiet moment 
  • Open up and talk about how you are feeling 
  • Prepare yourself and learn to listen to your body and mind 

It’s important to recognize this in ourselves and make space for others. Ask your kids how they are feeling. They feel your busy energy but also could be experiencing it. Holiday parties mean you are out of the house more and they are with a sitter. You are busy planning and preparing, which means less time for play and connection. First: There is nothing wrong with any of the above, but we need to recognize and S.T.O.P to connect and talk to our kids.

A good example of this in our home is my in-laws are unable to come over for the holidays from Australia. We are going on year three without seeing them. My daughter is happy and joyful for the holidays but also sad and angry we can’t be with them again. I need to make space for her to feel all the feelings and recognize that she needs time to feel and S.T.O.P to be with her. 

What does life look like for us? 

  • Slow down and make space for her 
  • Treat her to a special time with me. A walk after dinner, just the two of us. 
  • Open up and ask her how she is feeling about missing her grandparents. 
  • Communicate to her that it’s ok and I am sad too. Give her tools to work through the feelings, from breathing to taking a quiet moment or art. 

These are important reminders for all of us (even me as I type this) to take care of ourselves and one another. We all have mental health!