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Make time for mental health this holiday season

“When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude,” said writer and poet, G.K. Chesterton. During the holidays it can be hard to keep things in perspective when there is so much to do. Here are a few tips and tricks for combatting holiday stress and anxiety.

Plan ahead. Schedule out when you’ll do your shopping and preparation. Brenda Rump, clinician at Johnson County Mental Health Center, adds, “On Sunday, give yourself a couple of hours to map out the week. Include when you are going to exercise, shop, cook, etc. Keep those appointments and remember to have fun!”

Don’t abandon healthy habits. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you overindulge, it only adds to your stress and guilt. Try to incorporate good habits into your holiday activities: have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks; get plenty of sleep; and make time for regular physical activity each day.

Take a breather. Fifteen minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle your to-do list. Reduce stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Taking a walk, listening to soothing music, getting a massage and reading a book are all great relaxing activities.

Show gratitude. According to Amy Morin in Psychology Today, showing gratitude reduces toxic emotions such as envy, resentment and even aggression. It can also reduce stress and enhance a person’s empathy. Plus, it will get you in the Thanksgiving spirit!

It’s important to take care of yourself during the holidays. Seek out the help you need from those you confide in or a mental health professional. When you take care of yourself, you are more likely to show appreciation and return kindness to others. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

These and more resources on stress management are available on the Mayo Clinic website at mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle.

BY KEITH DAVENPORT & KRISTEN REESE

This article appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of JoCo Magazine, the quarterly magazine about Johnson County Government. For more content about and for Johnson County residents, visit jocogov.org/jocomag. 

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