The full moon is set to appear over Victoria before dawn on Christmas Day for the first time in 38 years. Image by ItkasanImages

Aside from all the craft fairs, Santa photos, and general festive vibe, the holidays can be a a really stressful time of year.

If planning holiday parties and throwing Christmas dinners isn’t taxing enough, some people may also be dealing with mental or emotional health issues around this time of year.

So the good people at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) are reminding everyone to put their mental health first and deal with the holidays one step at a time.

Here are 10 tips the CMHA recommends for you to get some “holiday peace of mind”:

  • Plan ahead – Whether you’re in charge of decorations for an event, or have to cook for a hundred guests, always have a game plan in place. That way, when the big day arrives, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy spending time with loved ones instead of worrying about whatever’s in the oven.
  • Organize and delegate – You don’t have to do this alone! Even the most seasoned perfectionists need a helping hand, much like Santa needs his elves. So once you’ve made a list of what needs to be done, get other members of your family and close friends to take on some of the burden!
  • Don’t overindulge – Alcohol can be a great time, but too much will have you reeling for the next 48 hours. All good things in moderation, and remember to eat well, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep.
  • Stick to your budget – Financial strains often cause the most stress during the holidays. Cut costs by taking part in free community events, window shopping, and making DIY holiday decorations and/or presents.
  • Remember your holiday priorities – Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/no matter what you celebrate – the holidays often hold different meanings for different people. Make time for your own little traditions and no matter what everyone else expects of you this season, do what you love!
  • Spend time with different people – This is the best time of year to reconnect with old friends, neighbours, relatives, etc. Everyone’s always busy pursuing their dreams throughout the year, so take this lull in career-related activity as an opportunity to spend time and relax with people who matter.
  • Join in community events – There are always plenty of things to do around your community this time of year – check out our Events Calendar for some ideas. One thing that will never fail to fill your heart is giving back to those in need by donating to your local food banks or charities.
  • When it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts – Don’t worry about the price tag! And if your list of people to buy gifts for keeps growing, plan a White Elephant gift exchange instead. Other ideas to reduce the financial strain include making DIY presents, and buying combined presents for people who live in the same household.
  • Don’t let the weather get you down – Lots of people get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) when winter rolls around. Keep an eye on your mood and make sure you eat, sleep and exercise well. Here’s a website that can help.
  • Find your best de-stress methods – Whether it’s playing with a puppy or curling up with a good book – everyone has their own personal way of recuperating from a stressful situation. If you or someone you know needs help finding what works for you, visit www.livinglifetothefull.ca to sign up for the CMHA’s Living Life to the Full course.

The holidays are especially miserable if you’ve recently lost someone close to you, or had something traumatic happen.

The CMHA has 5 tips that might help you get through the season:

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about it – Sharing your feelings can only help you feel better, at least in the short run. Plus, having to tiptoe around the subject will only be stressful in the long run.
  • Things won’t be the same – You might not want to feel like going out every night, and it’s okay to spend some time alone. Try not to isolate yourself from everyone, but don’t feel bad about cancelling a few events here and there.
  • Choose what you want to do during the holidays, regardless of other people’s expectations – Don’t feel pressured into attending social events if you don’t feel like it.
  • Remember to take care of yourself – Like any other time of year, if you’re depressed the main thing you need to focus on is taking care of yourself. Remembering to eat properly and getting enough exercise and fresh air can be difficult when you’re going through a tough time. Talk to your loved ones about how you’re doing and keep your support system around.
  • Create some new traditions – This is one sure-shot way to get your mind off the bad times. Take up a new hobby, start a new craft, or sing a new song to honour the memory of your loved one.

We hope these tips help you keep away the holiday blues and have yourself a stress-free month!

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