Tips to support your wellbeing during holidays

The holiday season is approaching and for some, it can bring a range of emotions. It can be a joyful time of coming together with loved ones, as well as a challenging reminder of loss and hardship.

Many in Atlantic Canada and Quebec are facing uncertainty as they navigate recovery after Hurricane Fiona. Others may be disconnected from loved ones, making the holidays a lonely time of year. Holiday expectations can also add financial strain.

Regardless of our circumstance, we all experience stress in different ways and it’s important to find the tools that help you manage.

Deborah Warring is a Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Advisor with the Canadian Red Cross. She recently supported people impacted by Hurricane Fiona in the southwest communities of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“That self-care piece is so important for individuals but it’s really the connection piece that I find is the most significant part of wellbeing,” she says. “Being connected, whether that’s to family, to neighbours, to community, to agencies, to the Red Cross or other agencies – make that phone call. Reach out to each other.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) states more than half of Canadians (52%) report feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation during the holiday season; and, if you’re already experiencing depression or anxiety, the holidays can amplify these feelings. 

To keep your stress in check, it can also be useful to participate in activities or try relaxation techniques. Here are some examples of activities and techniques that have been proven effective:
  • Hobbies: discover a new pastime or take part in an activity that you enjoy
  • Physical activity: it has countless benefits for your health and wellbeing that go beyond better stress management
  • Yoga, breathing exercises and meditation: all these techniques are highly effective for managing stress
  • Visualization: visualization techniques tap into your ability to form positive mental images
 A range of wellness apps and activities exist to support your wellbeing. If you are unsure where to start, Deborah recommends trying and finding the ones that work best for you.

“Whether you go for a walk in nature or take some deep breaths, or sit by the water and just really take some of those quiet moments – they’re important.”

But having that connection with others is critical, says Deborah.

“Whether it’s over a cup of tea, or a conversation over the phone, or organizing some time together – it’s really time with family and friends that can make a difference.”

While family relationships can be complicated for some, especially over the holidays, the important piece is to connect with others. This can mean connecting with people in your community or calling a support line, remember that reaching out is a sign of strength.

“If you know a neighbour or someone who is alone, please reach out to them. Even the smallest gesture of kindness means so much to people,” says Deborah.

As the holiday season arrives, consider the following tips to help you take care of yourself, and others.
  • Get enough rest. Rest provides your body and mind a break, which will increase your ability to cope.
  • Take it slow. Small steps are helpful when tasks seem overwhelming. Only do what you can.
  • Honour your traditions.
  • Be flexible and prepared to engage in new activities to celebrate.
  • Stay positive and make plans. Remind yourself of how you’ve successfully gotten through difficult times in the past. Be kind to yourself.
  • Reach out for connection and support.
  • If you see someone struggling, reach out to them or connect them to support services.
  • Download this free psychological first aid pocket guide
 For more tips, read Moving Through Recovery: A Guide for Holidays.


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