Top Emotional Health Tips for the Holiday Season

When it comes to the holiday season, it can be a real challenge to stay emotionally healthy. Even though everyone’s saying “Happy Holidays” and telling you to spread the good cheer, it sometimes feels like the last thing you want to do. For different people, emotions become very intense during the holidays, whether it’s stress from planning trips or having to deal with a nasty mother-in-law. Sometimes, it’s as simple as feeling like you don’t have time in the day to relax. Whatever your reason might be for emotional suffering during this busy time, know that you’re not alone. Most of us go through it. And know that there are ways to lessen it.

Having good emotional health during the holiday season is about checking in with yourself and using the right strategies to manage your emotions. Here are the best ways to do that.

Understand what your stressors are

It’s likely that, even when it isn’t the busy holiday season, you’re dealing with stressors day to day. Whether you have anxiety about making phone calls to plan events with family members or finances are stressing you out, chances are that there are specific things that trigger you. And then, all of a sudden, you’re turning to a bottle of wine for solace or taking it out on a loved one by fighting with them about something small.

That’s why it’s so important to know what your stressors are. That way, when they appear in front of you, you can take a deep breath and tell yourself, “It’s okay. I will handle this.” And you’ll also learn coping strategies. For example, if talking to your mother about holiday plans is stressful because she’s often not respectful of your boundaries, have a sibling call instead, or draft an email. 31 percent of Americans describe the holiday season as “frantic,” so understanding what’s stressing you out will make this time a little less so.

Open up about what you’re feeling

Once you know what your stressors are, it’s smart to share this with someone close to you. Whether that’s family, friends, or your therapist, you’re only going to get more upset if you keep everything to yourself. You’ll end up feeling bottled up, and–even worse–you might resent the person you’re angry at for making you feel this way. If you aren’t sure how to phrase it, write a list or letter first about what’s upsetting you. You might even surprise yourself with where your thoughts lead you.

Additionally, if things get too hard, you might want to talk to a mental health professional. Especially if you’re prone to anxiety and depression already, the holiday season is only going to make things worse. Of course, it can be hard to make time for therapy, especially if you have a large family or lots of responsibilities. In that case, think about using an online therapy service like TalkSpace.

Considering that Christmas shopping can be as stressful as running a marathon, chances are you’ll want to open up to someone about what’s going on. Figure out who is the best listener, and let them know you might need them around when things get tough. It’s just like when a startup uses a service like Social Gone Viral to make their social media strategy a bit easier to manage.

Take care of your body

We know, we know–the last thing you have time for is going to the gym when you’ve got so many other things to juggle. There’s buying all the gifts, and making all the plans, and somehow having time to get ready for yet another Christmas party. But the last thing you want is to start taking bad care of your body. Write up a detailed calendar of every week from Thanksgiving to the end of the year, so that you’ll schedule time for the gym or runs in the mornings. Getting a buddy to exercise with you will help motivate you, too.

If you’re an emotional eater, think about using an app like MyFitnessPal to keep track of what you’re eating without having to write everything down. There’s a reason why this app has a 4.7 rating in the App Store, and that’s because it works. In the same way, if you’re an emotional drinker, think about cutting back except when you’re at parties.

Once you’ve started taking care of your body, you’ll feel healthier emotionally, too. So don’t forget the importance of that. Additionally, meditation and yoga are great ways to nurture your mind and body at the same time. There’s a reason why business entrepreneurs like Tom Zaccagnino use these strategies to focus at work.

These are some of the best ways to stay emotionally healthy during the holiday season. What other ways do you take care of yourself emotionally?

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.