Easter weekend is well and truly underway, and for those of us that struggle with our mental health, this can mean another daunting challenge is in progress. There is something about holidays in general that can leave many of us feeling worn out or upset, but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are several methods of self-care we can use to counter these negative emotions, five of which we will cover today, to assure that we come out of the holidays feeling refreshed rather than stressed.
The Easter Holiday this year is quite an odd one. Last year many of us skipped Easter altogether due to worry about social gatherings and just adapting to the new way of life in general. This year however, things are slightly more manageable, and there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for many of us, meaning social gatherings with family and friends is back on the table for some of us.
Whether or not you’re attending one of these events or still in lockdown, there are definitely hurdles to overcome. If you’re more of an introvert, sitting at home over Easter may seem perfect, whereas for an extrovert I’m sure they’d love a good catchup with their loved ones, but when you get into the situation you may no longer feel that way, which can cause you to feel frustrated, sad and also cause you to blame yourself for your decisions which can create further problems.
That being said, all hope is not lost! Whilst there may not be one perfect fool proof roadmap for the best most relaxing holiday break, there are countless self-care methods you can use to help you along the way. These may not fix every problem you encounter, but they can help soothe some of the negative feelings and get you back in the right headspace to tackle any obstacles to your mental health and wellbeing that may occur.
As you can imagine, self-care is not a new topic of discussion on this blog, nor should it be. Whilst the term has become increasingly popular in recent years, it doesn’t make it any less important or valid. Consistently discussing the concept may sound repetitive, but in life there are already so many sources of stress and worry, so it makes a lot of sense that there should be equal reminders to put yourself first and re-charge.
Around holidays in particular these reminders are even more important, as it can be so easy to feel swept up by all the commotion and traditions. That brings us to our tips for today. Now I understand not every suggestion will work for every situation, but don’t let that put you off trying them if you’re feeling stressed or on the verge of burning out.
1.) Set Yourself Some Boundaries
Connection is important but so are boundaries. Learning the balance and what feels comfortable for you in particular is the goal you should be trying to reach.
As I mentioned above, most holidays are marked through some form of celebration, and around Easter this usually comes in the form of family gatherings. Now if you’re anything like me, this can mean that you’re in a pretty trigger-inducing situation. Setting yourself boundaries doesn’t mean not attending these events, but instead could mean that you try to avoid members of the family that can cause you upset, or even leave a little earlier if you start feeling uncomfortable.
If the entire aspect of your family gathering is a negative situation that will badly impact your mental health, then it’s totally fine to set firmer boundaries and you definitely shouldn’t feel shame for doing so. Just take some time to think about potential compromises you could make such as maybe calling in to say a quick hello before heading off to other plans you’ve made. Whatever feels comfortable.
If you’re spending the Easter holidays alone this year due to government restrictions, self-isolation or any other reason, then definitely try and get some social interaction with friends and family. It’s good for the soul. You may be thinking, “what has this got to do with boundaries?”, but realistically it’s healthy to set boundaries with ourselves as well as those around us. If you’re a naturally introverted person, you may decline all plans and spend the weekend alone, but just be careful not to overdo it. Feeling lonely and isolated will definitely start to impact your mental health and wellbeing.
2.) Don’t Judge Yourself
Easter is a celebration and part of that tradition has become grounded in food and drink. I mean, when I think of Easter my mind instantly drifts off to nice roast dinners and chocolate eggs. However, I’m also aware that sometimes after the holiday is over I can feel myself feeling unhealthy and upset due to my overindulgence.
That brings me to my second tip: Don’t beat yourself up for enjoying food and drink that is deemed unhealthy. I know it’s easier said than done but there is already enough going on in the world without you judging yourself over every last calorie. Simply put, if it makes you happy to indulge a little, then indulge a little. It’s not a bad thing to cut yourself some slack.
On the other side of the coin, I will say this, if you’re someone who is genuinely concerned about overindulging on either food or alcohol over the Easter weekend, then it’s totally fine to keep track and set some boundaries. Don’t let anybody give you grief for doing so, you know what’s best for you.
3.) Think About How You’re Using Your Social Media
This one doesn’t only apply during the holidays, but is just a good rule in general. I’m sure I’ll cover social media and it’s impact on mental health at some point on this blog, but until then let’s just say I have a very mixed opinion. There are so many benefits to social media, and they have become even more evident over the past year in lockdown, but with each of these there is usually quite the drawback.
Take some time over the holiday weekend to think about how you use your social media profile. I selected these words carefully as I don’t think you should just outright delete all your accounts. It’s not about all or nothing options, it’s about striking the balance that works for you. I’d describe it more as taking some time to curate your social media feeds so that they bring you the most happiness.
The reason I mention this now in particular, is that over the holidays, we can find ourselves faced with countless pictures of huge plans and gifts which can leave us feeling a little jealous or unimpressive in comparison. Let’s get one thing straight, social media and life are separate experiences. We don’t have the benefit of rose tinting real life, so don’t get caught up by those who do it online.
If you find yourself falling victim to getting upset over what you’re seeing on your feed, then just spend a little time removing those who bring you more sadness than joy and follow some positive upbeat pages. Just take whatever time you need to make sure that when you open up that social media app, whichever one it may be, that you’re greeted with something that makes you feel invigorated, not defeated.
4.) Send Your Time Doing Something Creative
Another aspect of the Easter holidays I tend to enjoy, aside from the food and time off work that is, is the encouragement to take part in a range of creative arts and crafts. Now I’m not sure this is a normal connection that people make, but between the ideas or painting eggs, hand weaving baskets or baking something themed and tasty, there always seemed like plenty of random quirky things to do.
The nice thing about holidays is that they tend to unintentionally create really enjoyable traditions. Whether you prefer something more laid back such as playing board games with family or having a few drinks with friends and having a night of painting, it’s something that you’ll not only remember, but also that you’ll potentially want to do the next year. It gives us something to look forward to.
It may not seem all that appealing at first, but getting your hands dirty can allow you to get out of your head for a much-needed moment of enjoyment. Obviously whatever you decide to do is entirely up to you, but if you need a little inspiration check out these articles from Country Living and Jane’s Patisserie which covers everything from mini egg cheesecake recipes to adult Easter egg hunts. Get out there and have some fun!
5.) If All Else Fails…Rest, Relax and Recover.
Just stop for a second, take a deep breath and exhale. It’s been a chaotic 12 months. For most of us it’s our second Easter weekend in lockdown. I’m sure that’s something we would have laughed at last year. Yes there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, but it still stings a little.
Take some time to treat yourself, be it with a relaxing evening, a nice meal or hell, even a good nights sleep without having to get up to the sound of an alarm ringing out. Most of us get time off over the holidays before being thrown back to it, so make the most of your time even if it means doing nothing at all. Your mental health will be sure to thank you for it.
So that’s it, my five suggestions for improving your mental health this Easter holiday. Regardless of what you end up doing, be it family time or spending some time relaxing, stay safe and enjoy yourself.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to learn more about mental health awareness and training, be sure to follow my blog here. Do you struggle with self-care over the holidays? What are your plans for this Easter? Are there any other suggestions you think could be beneficial? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you’re experiencing any of the feelings described in this post, or know somebody who is, then there are many things you can do to help. Talking to somebody about how you or they are feeling can be very beneficial. If you’re not sure what to do but need urgent help, there are many emergency hotlines that provide support and encouragement such as Mind.org and Samaritans.org. You’re not alone in feeling this way, others are there to help.