A Prescription for Emotional Health for the Holidays

The winter holidays can bring on positive and negative emotions and memories. Keeping your emotional equilibrium during this time requires a delicate balance between body, mind, and spirit.

Before the holidays move into high gear, take a look at how you are feeling and make a plan that will keep you on an even keel this season. Here are some things to consider.


  • Stick to your exercise routine.try some exercise options you think you might love and want to continue in the future.
  • Get enough sleep. Set a bed time and a wake time. Sleep eight hours a night.
  • Enjoy holiday foods in moderation.
  • Be sure to have medication refilled, and keep an adequate supply on hand for travel and long holiday weekends.
  • Keep appointments with your doctor, and get help for any new issues without delay.


  • Listen to the music of the holidays, and watch movies and sports you enjoy.
  • Go outside and get some sunlight, even if its chilly.
  • Know your financial limits, and stay within them.
  • Limit the use of alcohol.
  • Organize a holiday schedule for yourself and your family. Attend only activities that are priorities.
  • Make a list of positive things in your life. Focus on the positives in your work and personal life.


  • Forgive yourself and others.  Resentment is bad for you.
  • Connect with others in your family, circle of friends, and community.
  • Continue any recover group attendance or therapies you might be involved in.
  • Participate in spiritual or religious practice with a local congregation, if you are a member.
  • Acknowledge any grief, loss, or loneliness, and seek out new relationships and groups.
  • Share your blessings with others who are less fortunate by volunteering.

As a psychiatrist, I am aware that the holidays are particularly difficult for patients with cognitive impairments, emotional issues, addictions, stage-of-life issues, and strained relationships. If you are emotionally able, make an effort to touch the life of someone who is suffering. If you are in a group, invite a new person to join.

Emotional balance is possible during the holidays. Give it some thought, and make some positive changes. You’ll have a much more enjoyable season, and get a great start on the year ahead.

Dr. Paul B. Hill is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He specializes in treatment of geriatric and medically ill patients.

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