Protecting Your Mental Wellbeing During the Holidays

The holidays can prove to be a stressful time even under normal circumstances, but this year, it is more important than ever to protect your mental wellbeing during this trying time.

Whether you’re gathering with loved ones, staying home, or traveling during the pandemic this holiday season, here are some tips to put your mental wellbeing first:

Be realistic and don’t worry about perfecting the ideal holiday. Whether you are hosting or attending (or staying home altogether) – set realistic expectations for what you’d like your holiday to look like. This way, you won’t be disappointed when you don’t see certain family members or normal holiday traditions don’t happen this year. Do what is best for you and your family and don’t be afraid to say “no.”

Focus on non-materialism. This has been a particularly hard year for everyone, so taking a break from the expectation of gifts might be a welcomed change. Instead, focus on the things that truly matter, such as meaningful relationships, hopes, dreams, self-care, and improving the community around you.

Start new traditions. Make a new recipe, watch holiday movies, make homemade decorations or, if you can, volunteer in your local community. If you can’t be inside together, try taking a walk or hike outside – bundled up of course – or have a bonfire in the backyard while you sip on hot cider or cocoa! If you can’t be together in person, set up a video call to check in with loved ones or watch a holiday movie together online.

Leave the guilt behind. Everybody everywhere is connected by the worldwide changes we are going through together. It’s likely many do not know the right thing to do this season. So, if you’re not able to meet some holiday obligation set upon you, do not feel bad if it goes awry or you don’t feel comfortable. Remember what is important this season: joy, love and celebration. So put on your holiday socks, bake some cookies, and dance to some uplifting holiday tunes!

Be aware of your breaking points. Unfortunately, the holiday season can be triggering and push us past our breaking points. It’s important to be aware of yours, so when you’re coming close to it, you can stop and take a breather, then avoid those things in the future.

Practice moderation. The holidays are not an excuse to overindulge in your favorite things (e.g., drinking or eating too much). It’s important to enjoy your favorite dish or have a glass of your favorite drink in moderation. So, go ahead; have your cake and eat it, too – but just have a slice and not the whole thing.

Take care of yourself. It’s OK to take time out just for you. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating right, and keeping up with your exercise routine. These things are critical when managing stress and are an investment in your mental and physical wellbeing, which pays off in the long term.


“12 Tips to Keep Joy in the Holidays,” John M. Grohol, Psy.D,, Oct. 8, 2018.