How to stay stress-free for the holidays

The holiday season, in all of its tinsel-shiny goodness, is for some a time of stress or working through memories still painful to remember. Family feuds might overshadow what might have been an enjoyable time with relatives, and the stress of buying gifts for your children is sometimes too much to handle on your own.

This holiday season, embrace it the right way and make sure you’re strong and healthy mentally. A healthy mind is a mind ready for anything, including all of the difficulty we often forget about or don’t expect during the holiday season.

Mental health, especially during the holidays, begins with a degree of self care. Making sure you’re in order as an individual is important; caring for yourself allows you to care for others. Here are some ways you can implement self care:

1. Exercise

The physical is correlated with the metaphysical, which means your body’s health is essential to your mind’s health. suggests low intensity strength training three times a week, and cardiovascular exercise twice a week. The gift that keeps on giving is an investment in a healthy body, because it means that there’s a good chance you’ll be around for more holidays to come.

2. Make a List

Making lists might just be one of the most essential practices for someone ready to make headway into the holiday season. David Wallenchinsky, author of Book of Lists, says, ”People are attracted to lists because we live in an era of overstimulation, especially in terms of information.” While your child may love making lists of what he or she would like to see under the tree, make one for yourself identifying what you need to get done.

Renae Vania-Tomczak, president of Mental Health America of Lake County, suggests writing down your priorities in the holiday season, then sorting out the needs from the wants. Choose the things your time is best spent doing.

4. Celebrate Tradition

Renae also recommends celebrating old and new traditions, especially those that help you and your family remember a loved one. For some, the holidays might be painful following the death of a family member or friend. “The way to overcome the loss of a loved one is to celebrate the memory of that person," Renae says. "Going to their favorite restaurant, watching a movie they loved or telling stories about that person help in doing that.”

Perhaps you want to start this holiday with a new tradition. Tired of the same old food every year? Try a meal from a different food genre every year, like German food or BBQ. Maybe a movie the whole family fell in love with this year is the one you could watch on Christmas Eve from here on out.

6. Give Generously

Shed the expectation of getting for a giving mentality, because it’s a highway to some mental health fireworks. Nothing is better for the family than to enjoy the benefits of everyone sacrificing for one another, and the holiday season is the perfect on-ramp to a lifestyle tinted with self-sacrifice.

The gifts you could give number far more than what you could get at Target. Consider this season finding a charity to give to, or an organization to volunteer for. Spending time with those who don’t have a family, money or friends to celebrate with will speak volumes.

6. Love Others

The holiday life is best lived with others, so enjoy meals, gift giving and putting up the shiniest Christmas tree in town with the people who mean most to you. A mentally healthy individual is the best equipped to love others, and that’s what the holiday season is about, isn’t it? Make this Christmas one to remember a long while, and make sure your mental health is the most important gift to both yourself and those around you.