The Holiday Survival Guide

By: Jennifer Chu

You step into your local supermarket, and notice that you are surrounded by millions of chocolates wrapped in green and red.

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. This time of the year could bring great joy, as well as great stress. Here are a few guidelines for keeping good mental wellbeing during the holidays.

Guidelines for a healthy holiday

  1. Keep a good daily routine. Just because you are on holiday does not mean that you need to be out of control of your daily routine. If you know that sticking to a good daily routine with regular exercises, quality alone times, eating healthy, and/or doing your mindfulness practices is important for your mental wellbeing, then it is worth putting an effort to keep it up. This means thinking ahead of time how and what you can do to make these things happen, and make them happen.
  2. Simplify outings. Don’t overestimate what you would achieve with your outings. Focus on the process rather than the goals. Do not let your stress get so high that it defeats the purpose of having an outing.
  3. It’s a time of refreshment, not a time of exhaustion. Do not get yourself into a position where you just keep doing doing doing. If you are hosting a party, focus on enjoying the time with the people, rather than on setting up a perfect party. Set realistic goals, delegate jobs, and most important of all, have fun.
  4. Choose active over passive recreational activities. Choose boardgames, reading, taking a walk, or engaging in making things with your hands, over sitting in front of the TV or playing on your phone for hours on end. This is helpful for your mind to stay stimulated, refreshed and interested.

Guidelines for managing difficult social situations

If meeting some people brings you stress due to personality clash, and the situation is inevitable, then it is worth preparing yourself for it.

  1. Try to be neutral. Do not assume that they are here to pick a fight with you, because it will result in you misinterpreting their behaviours as malevolent when they are not intended that way.
  2. Practice not being oversensitive or taking things personally. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and when someone says something offensive, often they are just expressing what they think. Remember, whatever they say is more reflective of who they are, rather than who you are. Their words are as powerful as you want them to be.
  3. Be respectful yet firm on your boundaries. If there are unsolicited advice from others, trying to convince them with your arguments is likely to lead to fights if they are not in the space to listen. Sometimes “respectful minimalism” is the most efficient way to end the conversation.
  4. Lower your social expectations. Do not aim for a perfect time when there are so many other people out of your control. Try to focus on the enjoyable people and parts of the events.
  5. Take a break. When you feel like things are getting stressful, go away from the scene to calm down. Engage with others who are not so difficult, or shorten your time there if possible.

Suggestions if you are looking for more social opportunities

While Christmas is a busy time of gatherings for some, it can be very lonely for others. If that is the case, it might be worth pre-planning your holiday for more social opportunities.

  1. Reach out. Contact people near you that you would like to spend time with, see what they are up to for Christmas. A Facebook shoutout about what you are looking for could actually be very helpful. You might be surprised how many are also looking to meet up.
  2. Use the tools available. If you are up for meeting new people, making use of dating apps or going on websites that are dedicated to social interest groups, such as Meetup or Couchsurfing, could be very helpful.
  3. Look for local networks and events. You can also go on Facebook communities or app Nextdoor to explore interest groups in your local areas. And of course, if you just want to be around people, not actually interacting with them, be sure to check your local event calendar and see what is happening locally.


Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Living.

Feature image: Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash 

About the Author: Jennifer Chu is a psychologist who is passionate about therapy, experienced in a range of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, social adjustment issues, stress management, and cross-cultural issues and more.