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The holidays should be a joyous time. But for some, they can be nerve-wracking. These people feel the stress of hosting or seeing friends and family, purchasing gifts, and preparing extravagant dinners. They worry about the change to their comfortable daily routine. The stress and anxiety caused by the holidays can exacerbate the symptoms of people suffering from mental illnesses.

If you are feeling anxious about being stressed this holiday season, make sure to take care of your mental health. Here are a few steps you can take to stay mentally strong.

Make time for yourself. It might be daunting to spend time with individuals you may not have seen in a long time, especially if you are an introvert. Go for a solitary walk or run, work out in the gym, or listen to music in your room when you need to be alone.

Focus on things you can control. It is okay to feel anxious, but do what you can to control it. If you are worried about travel arrangements, make them well in advance. If preparing huge dinners stresses you out, order catered cuisine. Hire a cleaner if the thought of cleaning your house depresses you.

Stay physically healthy. Continue practicing healthy habits. Maintain your daily exercise routine. Eat healthy food and drink plenty of fluids. Get a good night’s sleep. Take short naps when you are tired. All this will improve your mood and leave you with a positive feeling.

Make new traditions. Do old customs stress you out? Then stop following them. Create new customs of your own.

Accept imperfection. You don’t have to buy everyone the perfect Christmas gift or bake the perfect pie. You may not be able to waltz through the check-in lines at the airport. Your flight (or bus) may not be on time. Accept that everything may not be perfect, and go with the flow. 

Relax. Unwind with activities like yoga, meditation, or a massage. Even a few minutes of deep breathing can help you destress.

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. You may need professional help to manage your mental health during the holiday season (and the rest of the year). The A Caring Approach folks can help you with life and wellness coaching and counseling.