Psychologist Noosha Anzab shares her checklist for keeping your mental health in tip-top shape this festive season.
Each year we count down to the holiday season.
Christmas, New Year, end-of-year school holidays, and forced office closures have us all setting lists of things to do, see and buy. But as joyous as it should all be, the chaos and stress of the festive season can take a toll on your mental health.
Psychologist Noosha Anzab suggests you make a mental health checklist to get you through the holiday season. Here are 4 things you should consider.
1. Controlling the controllable
Before, during and after holiday season every year, we are inundated with events, priorities, to-do lists and can feel quite overwhelmed and anxious trying to get through the plethora of things on our checklist.
We are often left exhausted, stress and can feel a little displaced amongst the chaos. To overcome this, make sure to control the controllable. This means sticking to your routine. Making sure your daily regimen doesn’t change much can really help us feel as though we are in control and things are going relatively smoothly. Sleep, wake up, eat, exercise and watch your favourite TV show when you would normally watch it.
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It’s really important to use our normal routines to help steady our minds by doing things at the same time every day. This will also give ourselves confidence in our emotions and help us acknowledge little wins, which can help set our momentum up for the day.
2. Make lists and prioritise self-care
Making lists is a great way to clear out our mental hard drive of thoughts and actions and store them in a safe space for us to prioritise.
During the holiday season, having lists really helps to keep anxiety at bay when we feel organised, accomplished and more relaxed. It also help us delegate tasks, too, so we aren’t overburdened. Making lists should be relatively simple. Whilst there are endless shopping lists, the tasks we need to navigate around need to be sorted in categories of urgent-important, not urgent-important, and not urgent-not important. Here, we can prioritise tasks on how urgently they need to be actioned.
You should also make a category entirely for yourself. Here you can include places to see and activities to do that allow you to let your hair down, engage in your intelligence in a new way and just have fun. If you’ve been wanting to wait for a day off to go visit a new café for brunch, this is where you’d put that task. If you’d like to take your new bike for a spin, this is where you prioritise that. If you’d like to head to the beach and do absolutely nothing for the day, this is the perfect space to plan that day.
3. Take care of your mental and physical health equally
If you aren’t prioritising psychological self-care, then you simply can’t afford to neglect your physical care.
There definitely is a mind-body connection and when we are physically healthy, we are better equipped to handle anxiety and stress, particularly during the holiday season. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals and exercising are wonderful ways to reduce fatigue, help us concentrate and enhance our overall cognitive functioning.
If we are physically feeling good, it makes it easier to ward off our worries and helps burn off the extra adrenaline our bodies are producing when we experience bouts of nervous energy.
4. Own your truth
It’s really important to have a support system in place during the holiday season and to also have some resources to better cope with your anxiety.
Talking to friends and family about how you are feeling and making arrangements for what to do when you aren’t feeling your best is a great way to ensure you are well supported.
Creating an anxiety toolkit for coping is also a great way of owning your truth. Accepting holiday-induced anxiety doesn’t mean you are admitting defeat; it’s simply acknowledging it is there and learning what to do when it strikes. Creating a favourite playlist to go for a walk with, a mindful activity to do or making time for meditation and rest are great ways to help combat the feelings of stress and anxiety that can be brought about by the holidays.
Noosha Anzab is a psychologist at Lysn.