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A Therapist's Tips for Maintaining Mental Health During The Holidays

by Kristen Milliron, LCSW, Mental Health Therapist

For many people, the holidays are their favorite time of year. For others, the holidays can be stressful; some people experience an increase in depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms.

If you have ever watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswald spends weeks preparing for the “perfect” Christmas. All his hard work is foiled by a squirrel, difficult neighbors, interfering family members, etc. As all the stress comes to a head, Clark goes on an eggnog-fueled rant and cusses out his entire family and then takes a chainsaw to a tree. Clark put way too much pressure on himself for the “perfect” Christmas and the end result was manic episodes, distress, and a total breakdown. At the end of the movie he realized the most important thing was to just be in the moment of the holidays with his family.

So, what can we do to make the holidays less stressful and just BE in the moment?..

  • Be Kind To Yourself. Put your own mental and physical well-being first.This may include setting boundaries with your family members. Identify what your possible stressors may be, so you can take steps to cope with that stress.

  • Write a Gratitude List and Offer Thanks. Nearing the end of the year is a good time to reflect back on what you are grateful for and thank those who have supported you. Studies have shown that gratitude improves your mental health.

  • Be Realistic. Manage your time by recognizing your priorities. Making a schedule is very helpful. Remember that it is okay to say no to plans that don't fit your schedule or even plans that you just aren't interested in participating in.

Maintaining Mental Health during the Holidays with a Denver Mental Health Therapist

  • Set Boundaries. Family and friend dynamics are often complex and can be a trigger for anxiety and stress. Accept that you can only control your role and that it is okay to set boundaries. Sometimes that means saying no and not spreading yourself too thin.

  • Exercise daily. Schedule a time to talk a walk, go to the gym, go for a hike, etc. Daily exercise naturally produces stress-relieving hormones in your body and improves your overall physical health.

Therapists tips for mental health during the holidays accepting patients Denver Colorado
Shopping counts as exercise, right?!

  • Prioritize self-care. Schedule time for activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good. It is okay to prioritize alone time when you need a break from family functions and relatives, and when you need time to recharge.

  • Eat Well. During the holidays this can be very challenging, due to dinners, parties, and holiday cookie trays everywhere you look. Stay hydrated, opt for nutrient-rich foods like fresh vegetables and fruits, and maintain a healthy balance through it all.

  • Get Support. Find some help, whether it's with friends, family, a counselor, or a support group. Keep up with or seek therapy. If you are feeling overwhelmed, talking to someone and seeking therapy can help you pinpoint specific events that trigger you and help you create an action plan to manage your stress.

In-person mental health therapy Denver Colorado Kristen Milliron LCSW

“We're gonna have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas.” — Clark Griswold

Mental Health Denver Holiday Stress

The most important thing to remember is to recognize your triggers and emotional reactions and implement tools to help you manage your stress, anxiety and other mental health symptoms. Prioritizing your mental health is a daily practice. Have someone who you can talk to about these situations. Reach out to friends, co-workers, family or a mental health professional.

I believe that prioritizing your mental health is a daily practice. Need help putting yourself first? Reach out.

Kristen Milliron, LCSW Denver mental health therapist in-person

Kristen Milliron, LCSW sees patients in-person at The Facility in Denver, CO and is accepting new patients (Telehealth and In-person).

Learn more about Kristen's Therapy Style here.

Ready to get started?

Book a FREE Discovery Call with Kristen to see if she is a good fit for you!

Want to use your insurance benefits for Mental Health Therapy? Book with Kristen using Advekit.


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