With each new holiday season, we have a chance to pause and reflect on the past year and celebrate all that we've accomplished. Many of us gather with family, friends, and co-workers and relish the joy and comfort the season can bring.
It's also important to recognize that for many, the holiday season can also be a stressful time and can cause a strain on their mental health.
What 2-3 tips would you offer to the Black community on maintaining mental health during the holidays?
The best way to practice self-care during the holidays is to anticipate your needs and plan for them.
1. If you can't avoid family members who trigger you or have unhealthy habits, create a plan that includes ways to minimize contact and maximize your mental health (ex. short visits, bringing a buffer, avoiding topics, etc.).
2. Set firm boundaries — even if it's uncomfortable. Don't subject yourself to being around people who have abused or disrespected you to make others happy or because "that's what family does." Healthy families and friendships don't support abusive cycles and relationships.
3. Avoid using shopping or food as a coping mechanism if you are sad — that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the season's best offerings. But if you're eating to fill a void, due to boredom, or sadness, push yourself to create healthier coping skills, like talking to a therapist, connecting with people who love and support you, and doing tasks that will increase feelings of mastery and control (like cleaning, downsizing, or catching up on chores you've avoided).
What is the best thing we can do for our self-care?
The best thing you can do for self-care is to make a commitment to pick healthiness over happiness. People use the holidays as an excuse to indulge financially, emotionally, and physically. Consider whether the short-term high is worth the consequences you'll face or feelings you'll have later. Healthy choices don't always feel great in the moment but create amazing results in the long run.
How can we give back without exhausting ourselves?
Give back in ways you can afford — that goes for money, time, and even your emotional energy. Determine how much you can allot this season in key categories like contributions, gifts, and volunteerism. Be honest and fair to yourself. Don't just think big. Consider allocating time to give to your immediate circle of family, friends, and community.
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