Give The Best Gift Of 2021

Why This Christmas Is Unlike Any Other

by Chimere G. Holmes, LPC, Mental Health Editor

The past 22 months have taught us that the best presents are the ones that we don’t have to wrap. Gratitude, mindfulness, love, and mental health are priceless, as is self-care. The absolute best gift of 2021? Connectivity. And we’re not talking about technology.

After nearly two years of being separated, many of us are celebrating the holidays with loved ones. The truth is that the most special, memorable experiences are those we create with our nearest and dearest. Generously giving our time, talents, and presence costs us nothing and gives so much to others. By not equating happiness with materialism, we can tap into the things that truly matter this season.

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Still, the holiday hustle – sending cards, decorating homes, shopping for gifts – can create anxiety and stress. The holidays can also be depressing for people who don’t have loved ones or are separated from them.

Gratitude, mindfulness and unconditional love are just a few of the priceless gifts that make someone’s spirits brighter and decrease your feelings of stress, depression and anxiety.

Gratitude: Intentionally practicing an attitude of gratitude can greatly impact our mental and physical health. Gratitude can improve our mood and enrich our relationships. Start practicing gratitude by writing down three things that you are grateful for. This simple exercise at the start or end of your day allows you to reflect on the things we tend to take for granted.

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Mindfulness: Studies suggest that paying attention to the present moment can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. Cultivate greater awareness of the “here and now” through deep breathing, meditation, stillness, and yoga. Use mindfulness to become conscious of things that may trigger or overwhelm you. Mindfulness allows us to manage stressful situations without judgement and leads to calmer feelings.

Love: Love promotes mental well-being and physical health. Additionally, love boosts self-esteem, increases feeling of happiness, and improves low mood. Receiving love from family, friends, or a partner/spouse can help you lower your stress levels and increase resiliency.

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Still thinking of the holidays with anxiety and dread? Take some simple steps to prioritize what matters most and prevent feelings of burnout and depression.

Five mental health tips for the holiday season:

  1. Set realistic expectations. Are the holidays really about giving the perfect gift or preparing the perfect soufflé ? No. The most important aspect of the holidays is to celebrate with those you love.
  2. Stick to a budget. Financial stress is a very real thing. No matter how tempting the sales become, don’t dig yourself into a financial hole.
  3. Maintain healthy habits. Continue to practice good sleep hygiene, enjoy sweets, alcohol, and carbohydrates in moderation, stay hydrated, and maintain your daily physical routine.
  4. Ask for support. Feeling isolated or alone? Talk to trusted family members and friends who will listen to your feelings. If things feel too out of control, reach out to a mental health professional. 
  5. Do what you love. You deserve to savor some of the extra downtime that the holidays afford. Try to reconnect with the things that bring you joy and a sense of peace. Give yourself the gift of self-care.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

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