During the holidays it can be easy to feel as though you are trying to fit 25 hours of work and family time into a 24 hour day. This is especially true for women, who are often expected to plan festive social and household activities.
What does a typical daily to-do list look like?
- Go to work
- Care for children
- Complete household chores
- Prepare meals
- Coordinate doctor’s appointments
- Plan social get-togethers
- Provide emotional support for those around you
This is just a short list and doesn’t account for the varying tasks and responsibilities that increase around the holiday season. While some are able to enjoy the festivities, many women are overwhelmed with additional tasks of the season, including:
- Planning holiday parties/get-togethers
- Sending holiday photographs/cards
- Holiday shopping
- Budgeting for the holidays
- Cooking meals
- Purchasing gifts for loved ones
The preparation necessary to accomplish all of these tasks is a serious load that can strain anyone’s mental wellbeing. However, since these tasks more often fall on women, it is important that we recognize the harm this can do to their mental wellbeing during the holiday season.
What is the Solution?
Here are a few actionable ways to help cope with holiday planning and enjoy the festivities.
Manage Your Expectations
Whether they are societal, family or personal, expectations drive us to adhere to standards that are unattainable and sometimes mentally damaging. Our overconnected lifestyles can make things worse. Social media paints beautiful, yet incomplete, portraits of how the holiday season is supposed to be represented. Every time you see pictures of a holiday party and feel inspired to plan one, remind yourself of the commitment and planning that is required. That’s not to say you should discourage yourself. Instead, if a holiday party is something you really want to do, make sure you have the time to commit. Bring others on board to help you plan if necessary.
Our brains have a bad habit of rationalizing over-commitment, especially when we feel pressured by outside influences to do more than necessary. We guilt ourselves into filling up every space of free time with activities.
Try managing expectations for your holiday plans. If you are attending a large holiday get-together already this month, then perhaps planning your own party is too much for your schedule. Don’t let your inner critic get the best of you and if the outer critic is someone you know, then it’s best to learn to just say no. Your mental wellbeing will thank you for it.
Talk About It
You don’t have to keep stress to yourself. It’s very healthy to make those who place expectations on you aware of what is troubling you. You will often be the first person to recognize challenges with your mental health, so it’s important to communicate your concerns with those close to you. Your friends, family and significant other need to understand when you need help or a break from a hectic holiday schedule.
Communication leads to understanding, which leads to solutions. If those around you are able to understand the pressure you are under, they are far more likely to try to amend their expectations and help you when you need it.
Make Time for Yourself
Instead of filling every space of free time with activities, try turning those moments into time for yourself. Go for a daily walk through the park, do some yoga or read a book. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s something that you want to do, not something you feel expected to do. The world won’t stop turning if that gingerbread house isn’t made or if the stockings above the fireplace don’t all match.
You owe it to yourself to put down your task list once or twice during the day to decompress and enjoy something fun or relaxing. While it may seem obvious, this is something that we all struggle with and should be addressed. Taking more time for yourself will allow you to decompress and enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.
If you’ve tried many of these solutions and your mental health issues still persist, ask for help. Mental health issues like stress, anxiety and depression can be serious and may require treatment that only a healthcare professional can prescribe. Before starting a medication get guidance from the Genecept Assay®, a genetic test meant to help you in your search for treatments that fit your needs.
Genomind offers a service to both patients and clinicians that helps personalize treatment plans for a whole range of issues, including anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, schizophrenia, chronic pain, substance abuse and much more. Genecept Assay® is a comprehensive genetic test created to assist clinicians and patients in optimizing treatment decisions by interpreting individuals’ genetic markers. Genecept Assay can help reduce the cost and stress of mental illness by eliminating much of the trial and error that comes with the process of medication adherence. Patients seeking more information should check our resources for choosing a clear path forward. Clinicians can find all of the information they need to know about the test here.
This blog post references a Huffington Post article by Gemma Hartley.