Mental Wellness During the Holidays

By Kendra Penski on November 23, 2022 in Uncategorized

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Two people in the kitchen cooking for the holidays.


This time of year serves as a reminder of how important it is to prioritize mental wellness during the holidays.  The holidays are here! It seems like once October hits, the holiday countdown is on! The holiday season can be exciting, anxiety-provoking, nostalgic, overwhelming, joyful, you name it the holiday season brings it. That is why it is extremely important to practice self-compassion and care as part of your mental wellness during the holidays.

Tips For Mental Wellness During the Holidays

As cliche as it might sound, you have to take care of yourself before taking care of others! Now, before I lose you and you say “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that,” just read a little further on a few tips and tricks that might save you from that feeling of exploding around your mother-in-law or that cousin Eddie that eats all your food.

So, what is self-compassion? Self-compassion means showing kindness to yourself, accepting yourself for who you are, your imperfections, and everything in between. Self-compassion does not mean giving up on yourself, it means continuously growing and self-improving by working with your strengths and weaknesses, and knowing no matter what you are a work in progress and it will be okay. 

This Season, Try These 3 Self Compassion Tips:

1. Have a Fair Attitude Toward Yourself (rather than a judgmental or critical attitude)

What does this mean? It means treating yourself warmly, gently, and fairly, having an attitude of acceptance toward yourself—rather than judgment. When you’re critical and judgmental of yourself, you’re more likely to experience unhappiness, insecurity, and anxiety. When you treat yourself fairly, you are better able to manage these uncomfortable feelings. People who are not self-compassionate often assume the worst about themselves. 

For example, imagine receiving some constructive criticism from a family member about your cooking or the way you wrapped a certain present. When you judge yourself you only hear the negative, and tell yourself, “Of course, I can’t do anything right, I suck at everything.” Coming from a place of fairness and acceptance, you hear the whole message, and tell yourself, “I worked really hard on this meal and others have told me I did a good job and I am proud of doing all of this.”

Self-compassionate people believe that they are good, have good intentions, and are competent. They can recognize when they make a mistake, it’s just that—a mistake. So when someone possibly makes a comment about something you didn’t “do right” or a “mistake you made” try to switch your negative thinking into a positive one of “I may have burnt the potatoes, but I will get it right next time.” Or, “Well, I know my pie is delicious!”

2. Accept That Struggle is Normal (rather than feeling bad)

“We are our harshest critics.” I am sure you have heard that before. You are the biggest critic of your own imperfections and mistakes. While others can hide their insecurities, you can’t hide from yourself. When you feel bad about yourself, or when you make a mistake, it might seem like you’re the only one, but let me tell you, you most certainly are not. 

Whatever the struggle might be, try to put it in perspective and know that it’s normal to have flaws, insecurities, and make mistakes, even if you don’t feel like you see them in others. Remember that no one is perfect. Everyone has bad days, loses their temper, and makes mistakes, like yelling at a family member during the holidays. Recognizing that your struggles are normal gives you permission to feel self-compassion, despite any shortcomings, which allows you to provide more grace for yourself. This, in turn, helps you enjoy life more without putting as much pressure on yourself.

3. Practice Mindful Awareness (rather than getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings)

Being mindful means taking a step back from your thoughts and emotions, and seeing them objectively. To try to take the emotion out of it and think logically. Creating distance from your own thoughts and feelings lessens the power they have over you and helps you not “explode” in the moment. Mindfulness will help you become accepting of your feelings and to normalize them. It’s common to think “I shouldn’t be angry, I should be happy the family is here” or “I shouldn’t be sad.” Being mindful and present lets you acknowledge your feelings, without the need to change them. “I shouldn’t be angry” becomes “I am angry, and that is okay. My feelings are valid and this will pass.”

When you practice mindfulness it helps create a perspective and acceptance of your thoughts and feelings. Learning to view your experiences mindfully makes everything else easier. When you take a step back, you can see things more clearly. This lets you take control of your life, rather than being at the whim of your emotions and possibly screaming at the family during dinner time. So next time you feel like you might throw the turkey across the room, try practicing a mindfulness approach of thinking to yourself, “I feel angry at the family, they are driving me bonkers, I am allowed to feel that way and that does not mean I am a bad person.” 

Practicing self-compassion is much easier said than done. It takes time to be able to redirect our brain and focus on the good things we are doing versus the things we feel like we can’t get right. After a little practice, a little patience, and a lot of grace, these habits and traits can be unlearned and changed with self-compassion and love.

Happy Holidays from us at FWC!

By: MacKenzie Greenlee, LMFT