Kanchan Rai, mental and emotional wellbeing coach, and founder, Let Us Talk, tells us how to manage negative emotions and fight anxiety during the festive season.
Festivities and holidays always come tagged along with joy, warmth, and connectivity, but can also be equated with major sources of anxiety and sadness.
Experiencing holiday blues is a familiar phenomenon for most of us and maybe hitting folks extra hard this year.
It’s time to address the elephant in the room.
The festive fervour this year is very different than what it has been in the past years.
Most of us may be grieving over the loss of a family member or friend whose absence will be felt amidst the celebrations, while others may still be struggling to cope with the stress, uncertainty, and fear associated with the outbreak.
Some of us may even be engulfed with the feeling of loneliness finding ourselves having to spend the festivals alone due to incapability to travel or mix with our loved ones.
At a time where we all may be looking for some sort of light at the end of this long, dark tunnel of the outbreak, we must not let the feelings of bleakness take over our minds.
To steer this season without allowing the negatives to sabotage our mental health, we must slow down to carve out some time off for ourselves.
Here are some guidelines that will facilitate in helping you uphold your mental well-being while you celebrate during such challenging times:
1. Learn to schedule ‘anxiety time’
It’s nearly unmanageable to avert feeling, some degree of worry when you are living through a pandemic.
To cope with that anxiety, it is recommended to make a note of all the worries that have been popping into your head and setting aside a designated ten to fifteen minutes to worry about everything.
Once your time is up, you must overlook that list and start thinking about a new one for your upcoming worry session.
Learning to schedule fears will help ease your tense mind.
2. Practice gratitude
None of us know what exactly does the future has in store for us. This is a reality that can be overwhelming.
Hence instead of becoming paralysed by what you can’t control, you must try and bring your attention back to the present moment and be thankful to all of the people, things, and experiences that make you feel gratitude.
In spite of adverse situations that we all have been experiencing, there are still plenty of things for us to be appreciative of.
3. Keeping the festive spirit alive
One of the healthiest things we can do to keep ourselves and our minds healthy during this time is to simply accept that festivities will be different this year.
Celebrating a bit differently than usual can also help in recharging your emotions. For example, scheduling remote celebrations over video calls or exchanging creative virtual giveaways can give you a sense of connectivity.
4. Take charge of your emotional health
We are fervent about getting the basics right when it comes to sustaining good mental health.
This boils down to three elements like proper sleep pattern, healthy diet, and physical activity.
Each of these elements can have a huge impact on the significant hormones and chemicals that influence our mind’s wellness.
When we are well-rested, physically fit, and nourished, we are in a much better place emotionally to handle life’s challenges and stressors.
5. Do something new
If you have been undergoing a hard time finding calm amid the storm of the pandemic, you must take a moment to let your mind wander.
You must consider if there is anything that you always wanted to try your hands on, but couldn’t.
Trying out new things can help us in leaning into major changes instead of resisting them.
6. Prioritising for self-care
Sustaining a routine can be challenging, but zeroing in on what self-care looks like for you is an optimal place, to begin with.
Catching up on plenty of sleep, healthy eating, resetting your mind by avoiding screens, physical activity, and practicing mindfulness are the cornerstones of self-care care that help manage your thoughts when you are feeling overwhelmed.
7. Say ‘NO’ to undesirable thoughts
We usually tend to set boundaries such as ‘I will call instead of visiting my extended family this festive season to keep my household safe.’
Although we are happy with the boundary that we have set, we continue to stress ourselves over what we are not doing rather than what we are doing.
These self-critical negative thoughts need to vanish since it is counterproductive to the festive season that should be a healing period, rather than a period of stress.
8. Embrace new traditions
It is totally normal to feel frustrated when much-anticipated family events are getting cancelled or modified in the name of public health. But allowing that to get stuck in your mindset, won’t change the situation.
Once your mind has processed those feelings, you have the opportunity to find new ways to make your festive cheer all the more special.
Instead of dwelling on what did not happen, take some time to brainstorm different ideas for making this year’s unusual celebration one to remember.
9. Be empathetic towards others
Doing something kind for others can actually boost your mood and feelings of self-esteem.
This upcoming festive season, go out of your way to do something kind for a person in your life. Even small gestures like celebrating with a neighbour who lives alone can help uplift your mood.
10. Reaching out for help when you need it
Asking for help when you need it is essentially one of the bravest things that you can do for yourself.
Talking about your emotional problems with a trusted friend, family member, or even a mental health professional can help you feel at ease.
Revel in the spirit of the festive season by prioritising and focusing on mental healing by acknowledging your emotions.
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