The flurry of the festive season, with its promises of joy and celebration, can also bring stress and strain to our mental wellbeing. Balancing the demands of family, social obligations and personal expectations can sometimes feel overwhelming. Phatho Zondi, Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) Physician and Virgin Active South Africa wellbeing expert, provides some practical strategies to take care of your mental health and effectively manage stress during the festive season.
1. Recognise Your Triggers
The first step in managing stress is self-awareness. Identify the specific factors that contribute to your stress during the festive season. Whether it’s the pressure of gift-giving, family dynamics, or financial concerns, understanding your triggers allows you to address them more effectively.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
It’s easy to fall into the trap of unrealistic expectations during the holidays. Acknowledge that perfection is not the goal and set realistic expectations for yourself and others. Understand that not every moment needs to be picture-perfect, and it’s okay if plans don’t unfold exactly as you planned.
3. Prioritise Self-Care
Amidst the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to prioritise self-care. Set aside time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk, or practicing mindfulness, these moments of self-care are crucial for maintaining your mental wellbeing.
4. Establish Boundaries
Learn to say no when needed. It’s okay to decline invitations or skip events that might add to your stress. Establishing boundaries allows you to protect your mental and emotional space, ensuring you have the energy to fully enjoy the festivities.
5. Seek Support
Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sharing your thoughts and concerns can provide valuable perspective and emotional support. Sometimes, just talking about your feelings can alleviate a significant amount of stress.
6. Financial Planning
Financial strain is a common source of stress during the holidays. Create a realistic budget for gifting, decorations and celebrations. Avoid unnecessary financial pressure by planning ahead and making thoughtful, budget-friendly choices.
7. Embrace Flexibility
Plans may change and unexpected events may occur, so learn to embrace flexibility and adaptability. Being open to change reduces the impact of unforeseen circumstances on your stress levels, allowing you to navigate challenges with a more resilient mindset.
8. Stay Active
Physical activity is a powerful stress reducer. Engage in activities you enjoy, whether it’s a workout, a dance class, or a walk out in nature. Exercise releases endorphins, promoting a positive mood and reducing stress levels.
Prioritising your mental health during the festive season will make it easier to enjoy and appreciate the holiday experience. The essence of this special time lies in connection, joy, and wellbeing, and taking care of your mental health allows you to fully enjoy every moment of the season.