Managing Mental Health Through a Merry Season

Whether you’re looking forward to the holidays or secretly dreading them, chances are there is something about the run-up to the new year that can trigger less-than-jolly emotions or spikes in anxiety or depression. To help, AARP provides the following mental health well-being strategies to help manage the challenges that come with this merry season.

  • Change up gift-giving routines. If holiday giftgiving causes financial anxiety, consider changing the narrative with family spending limits. Another option is giving gifts of appreciation, such as a heartfelt letter, a meaningful photo or a “date” to spend time together. Data has shown that making someone feel appreciated means more than a gift itself.
  • Get rest. Sleep is extremely important when dealing with mental stress. When possible, take a 20-minute nap to refresh your mind and soul. And be sure to always get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Reach out. Push back against loneliness. Make time each week to reach out to a friend or family member by phone or Zoom, invite someone to meet for coffee or come over to watch a TV show, or ask a neighbor to join you on walks or trips to the grocery store.
  • Consider volunteering a couple of hours each week.  Science has shown that those who give back through volunteering experience not only mental health benefits but physical benefits, too.
  • Get active. Don’t let Michigan’s winters make you sedentary. Weave physical activities into your daily in-home routine, such as walking in place while watching TV, dancing to a favorite song or following some easy 10-minute workouts on YouTube or org (search exercise). Incorporating exercise into a daily routine can lift moods and help fight negative feelings such as depression and anxiety. It can also improve sleep habits. 
  • Try a new hobby or skill. Try finding joy and relaxation in a new passion, like photography, painting or knitting to alleviate stress. And if you’d like to combine your new knitting skill with giving back, visit AARP’s volunteer platform,, to find community service projects that knitters can do from home or in person.

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