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by Maddie Lukens, MA

Much of 2020 has been filled with surprises, un-planned experiences and unmet expectations. We all have been impacted in various ways by a significant change or loss of some type. No matter where you or your family find yourselves as 2020 comes to a close, it is important to take care of your mental and emotional health through the holiday season. This time of year will still be filled with joy and wonder, but our experience of it may be different than expected.

Perhaps your holidays will be simpler, or maybe you’ll step into the (mostly fun) chaos of giving, receiving, wrapping, sharing and cooking. However your celebrations and time with loved ones look this year, there are some important things to keep in mind. Prioritizing your mental and emotional well being are important because the better “you” you can be, the more fun and joy you’ll experience in the coming weeks.

Live in the present. Have you gotten to the end of your day, exhausted, unable to remember what you ate for lunch? I can relate. Being present takes intentionality and requires that we introduce a level of slowness into our day that is counter-cultural. Because much of our lives are lived on the go and we are used to operating in fast-paced environments, being present will take some practice, but I promise you, it’s a rhythm worth finding. A few ideas to live in the present are:

  • Write down three things you’re grateful for, daily.
  • Practice slowing your breath (think taking an inhale for 4 seconds & an exhale for 8 seconds); repeat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Go on a walk and take notice of the things you see around you, instead of listening to a podcast.

Be a mindful consumer. One of the most significant reasons we feel burned out and burdened is because we don’t often take a moment to evaluate what we’re consuming. Anything in excess leads to an imbalance and that includes our consumption of food, drink, media, and relationships. Maintaining your boundaries during holidays with loved ones you don’t spend much time with is imperative. Setting limits to the amount of time spent watching the news or scrolling social media will give you more freedom to be present with your loved ones. Finally, honoring your body in what you eat and drink will leave you feeling refreshed and satisfied, instead of tired and grumpy.

Cultivate restful alone time. Channeling your inner-introvert is necessary to re-charge when you’ve spent a few days in a noisy house or with tiny humans. Taking some time to spend alone while family is in town is not selfish, it’s actually one of the best things you can do. Giving yourself time to recharge enables you to be a better partner, friend, and parent. If you don’t take time for yourself to re-fuel, you might find yourself bitter, irritable, or frustrated.

Reflect with gratitude. Gratitude is powerful and perspective-changing as it causes you to think about what you already have, instead of focusing on what you don’t. This simple challenge to our consumption mindset has the power to positively impact how we view stressful situations, painful relationships, or unmet expectations. Gratitude leaves us with a sense of thankfulness, instead of bitterness. What are a few things you’re thankful for in 2020?

Look ahead with hope. As much as a global pandemic brings into perspective the things that matter, it is important to identify the things that allow you to cultivate hope. Clinging to fear and uncertainty are easy, but staying hopeful despite what we hear and see in the world around us is the harder choice. It takes courage to be hopeful, but your mental and emotional health will thank you.

Start Anxiety Counseling in Montgomery County, PA

The holidays can tow with them a mixed bag of emotions for many of us. If you find that your holiday season, or 2020, has been more than you can handle, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. The counselors at Lime Tree Counseling are offering telehealth visits and many have evening hours available to help accommodate your busy schedule. They specialize in anxiety treatment, addictions counseling, and cross-cultural counseling, to name a few. Schedule an appointment or free phone consultation today!