2021 Advent Calendar

December 8

Keep the holidays happy

The holiday season can mean additional stress and depression for many people. Take your mental health seriously, not for granted. Find helpful tips and resources below from Alicia Reif ’07 PsyD, LP, Psychologist, CSB/SJU Well-Being Center. Learn to recognize holiday triggers and plan ahead to give yourself time and space to experience the peace and joy of the season.

Maintain a healthy sleep schedule. We can quickly toss aside our eight hours of sleep (if you are one of the few who sleep this much) in favor of evening parties, sleeping in on days off or relaxing your sleep schedule for travel. Our sleep is critical for recovery and healing, and we have been experiencing higher levels of stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prioritize your sleep in order to get the most out of what you choose to do.

Keep your body moving. Exercise can be difficult to maintain during the winter months as we lose sunlight and the temperatures turn colder. Moving your body with meaning and in ways that you enjoy increases your motivation and maintains a healthy practice that is sustainable and improves your quality of life.

Remember to keep your expectations in check. We may need to modify our activities due to COVID-19, and we may not be able to entertain or celebrate in ways we have in the past. Reconnect to what you find important about the holiday season and set your expectations accordingly in order to reduce the stress, or grief, of the coming months.

Give yourself limits, especially financially. Indulgence is a reality of the holiday season. We often focus on bigger, better, and louder than we do throughout the year. While this may be fun in the moment, we may face larger consequences later. Setting limits for your time, expenses and extravagances will allow you to stay true to your values of the season and focus on connections with loved ones. As the financial costs of the season are expected to be higher than in previous years, setting a budget can be helpful now and in the future.

For more information and additional tips for maintaining your mental health, visit Mental Health First Aid During the Holidays and Tips for Managing your Mental Illness During the Holidays.

Additionally, the holidays can be a time of high distress and crisis for many who have been struggling with mental illness, experiencing grief and exhaustion from COVID-19. If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, depression or intense mental crisis, text “Go” to 741-741, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call your local 911. Take action when you are experiencing a crisis or supporting another in crisis. If you need assistance in finding a mental health professional near you, visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.

Alicia Reif ’07
PsyD, LP, Psychologist
CSB/SJU Well-Being Center