Blog: Articles on Psychological Wellbeing, Relationships, Brain Health, Counselling and Neurofeedback

Welcome to the blog of Sojourn Counselling and Neurofeedback. Articles posted here are written by our clinical staff and relate to services we offer or conditions we address. We hope they will be helpful to you in some way, whether you're considering counselling for yourself or someone else, gathering information on a mental health related issue, or just want to find out more about who we are and what we do.

5 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health During the Holidays

The holidays can be a tough time for a variety of reasons. Even those with loved ones and the means to spend a little extra may find themselves feeling overwhelmed by all of the family, social and work expectations. Those who don’t have family nearby can find themselves missing home, and isolation and depression can sink in.

Here are 5 ways to honour yourself during this holiday season:

Be realistic about your time commitments to make sure you don’t overcommit
It can be tempting to say yes to every holiday work event, family function, and Christmas events with friends, especially if you’re someone who really enjoys holiday activities! However, with making time to shop, wrap presents, and decorate the house, time devoted for yourself can go out the window. Staying organized with your time commitments and setting some boundaries with family, friends and work can help manage the mental load of the holiday season, and help you make it through without getting too stressed out.
E.g. “I’d love to plan the holiday party with you Mary, but unfortunately I already have several other commitments next week.”

Schedule self-care or regular check-ins to manage your time and energy
Self-care can often be the first thing to go when the pace of life accelerates, and our focus can be pulled externally, focusing on the needs of our friends, family, and workplace. However, it’s important to remember to make space for your own needs, making sure you have adequate downtime, time to exercise, and time to reflect on how you’re navigating all the demands of the holiday season. Getting organized and scheduling in some proactive self-care activities, such as a nap, bubble bath, journal time, or mindful walk in nature can help to offset some of the stress that is associated with the holidays.
E.g a 20 minute walk in nature has been shown to lower cortisol levels, with the peak drop of cortisol levels occurring after 30 minutes in nature (Hunter, 2019).

Practice standing up for yourself and setting boundaries
The holiday season is a time when you may find yourself in social gatherings with people you don’t see often, and it can sometimes feel like you get pulled into their expectations. If you find yourself in a conversation with a distant family member who is making you uncomfortable, it can be really difficult to stand up for yourself, as the need to avoid conflict can loom large in the moment. Conflict during a busy season like the holidays can feel overwhelming, but so is the overcommitment or resentment that can arise when your boundaries aren’t respected. If you find family members or friends question you about your life choices, such as your choice of school program, work or your life partner, it can be helpful to have some mentally rehearsed redirection statements, such as “I don’t want to get into that right now, but I’d love to talk about X or Y instead.” Taking some time to journal about potential triggers from friends or family members and preparing how to handle that in advance can make the potential conflict much easier to handle in the moment.

Calm your brain with neurofeedback
Neurofeedback is a great way to handle the stress of the holidays, as booking a Neurofeedback session can be a way to schedule in your self-care practices in advance, and help your brain manage the stress of the holiday season. Neurofeedback is a process of reflecting your brain’s activity back to it, which allows your brain to update itself and become more mature and efficient. Neurofeedback is especially helpful for managing anxiety, emotional overwhelm, and improving sleep quality, which are all issues that can come up over the holiday season. Neurofeedback is a process which usually takes 3-4 sessions to start seeing the benefits in emotional regulation and improved sleep quality, so it’s best to start training in advance of the holiday season for maximum benefits.

Stay connected to people that bring you joy, and give back if you have the means to do so
While the holidays can often be about connecting with loved ones, they can be an isolating time for others who are distant from their families. If you are someone who is closer with your friend group than your family, it can be hard when all of your friends have family commitments over Christmas, and don’t have as much space for you. To manage this sense of isolation, it can be helpful to connect to others in new ways. One way is getting involved in volunteer work, or connecting to a purpose larger than yourself. Giving back to others in an authentic, open-hearted manner or random acts of kindness can be highly rewarding, and has been shown to release dopamine (Ritvo, 2014). Humans are wired to be social animals, and giving can help both the giver and receiver, making both feel more connected to one another and humanity.

If you are struggling during this holiday season, you don’t have to navigate those heavy emotions alone. Reach out to someone from the Sojourn team to set up an appointment today



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