As the holidays begin, families and friends come together to celebrate. There’s much to be grateful for during this time, but the holidays can also bring up feelings of stress for many people.
An important way to take care of yourself is to manage emotional wellness—not only to improve your overall health but to help you better enjoy the end of year festivities.
Today we’ll answer:
- What’s emotional wellness?
- And how can you manage it?
What is emotional wellness?
Emotional wellness is a person’s ability to manage emotions and handle life challenges.
When emotional wellness suffers, your relationships, mental health, and ability to do day-to-day activities can also suffer.
Struggling to maintain emotional wellness may even impact physical health, with issues that can look like the classic effects of stress—including high blood pressure and digestive issues.
Managing emotions, handling life’s stresses, and coping with difficulties in a healthy way—especially during potentially stressful times like the holidays—is a powerful tool for better overall health.
6 tips to help manage emotional wellness during the holidays
Evidence suggests physically active people have lower rates of depression and anxiety than people who don’t exercise frequently.
This could be for a variety of reasons—though recent research suggests regular exercise has an “antidepressive effect.”
How does it work?
According to John Hopkins Medicine, it blunts the brain's response to emotional and physical stress.
Physical activities like walking, biking, or even dancing can help:
- Improve sleep
- Increase energy levels
- Reduce feelings of stress
- Enhance mood and emotional well-being
If you have time, try to go for walks or runs during the holidays to help blow off some steam and improve your mood. It’s a healthy habit that can support your well-being well after the holidays are over too.
The holidays are a great time to socialize as family and friends get together.
Socializing can help:
- Improve feelings of loneliness
- Sharpen memory and cognitive skills
- Increase happiness and well-being
Sometimes social gatherings and responsibilities can challenge our emotional well-being. But seeking positive social connection—whether with romantic partners, friends, family, or neighbors—can have a healthy impact on emotional well-being.
While characterized as a time of joy and cheer, the holidays bring increased stress for many people. You may have to plan family gatherings, buy gifts, or travel during some of the busiest travel days of the year.
Here are a few tips to help reduce stress during the holidays:
- Plan ahead. Set aside time, or even days dedicated to cooking, packing for travel, or shopping.
- Consider minimizing or eliminating gift giving with your family or friend group. Instead of swapping presents, many people choose to donate to charities, share food, write letters, or plan an activity or outing together.
- Stick to a budget. Decide how much money you’d like to, and can afford to, spend before you shop.
- Keep up with healthy habits. Do your best to stay physically active, get enough sleep, and take time for yourself for relaxing practices and hobbies of your own.
Get your sleep
Poor sleep can decrease positive emotions and increase negative emotional responses to stressors.
To improve sleep during the holidays, do your best to:
- Exercise daily
- Avoid naps close to bedtime
- Avoid electronics, alcohol, and big meals before bedtime
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, and comfortable sleeping environment
- Keep a routine—go to bed at the same time every night
Developing mindfulness practices can help you face stressful situations with more ease. Practicing mindfulness is about allowing yourself to be fully present—and not operating on autopilot, in a reactionary state.
Two common mindfulness techniques include:
- Deep breathing, which can help supply more oxygen to the brain and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system—promoting a sense of calmness.
- Body scans may also help you cope with challenges and stress. In one study, researchers found participants had reduced levels of stress after doing a body scan meditation. Body scans can be done in as little as five minutes and consist of being still and focusing on how various parts of your body feel, while breathing deeply and relaxing each body part.
Going for a stroll on your own can also be a great moment to practice mindfulness while getting exercise too.
Spend time with your hobbies
A hobby is any activity done regularly for leisure and enjoyment—like writing or painting, gardening, or athletic activities like sports or working out.
Your hobbies are unique to you. Spending time on them can help:
- Reduce stress. One study showed cortisol (the stress hormone) dropped by 75% after participants made art.
- Enhance well-being. In another study, researchers found people experienced a better mood after spending the day doing creative activities.
It’s important to take time for your emotional wellness during the holidays—it allows you to show up better for yourself, your relationships, and daily activities.
Whether it’s exercise, getting enough sleep, or spending time on a hobby—there are plenty of ways to take control of your emotional wellness.
We hope you learned something new to make the holiday season a little more joyful.