Mental Health & The Holidays (Including Two Recipes Perfect For The Holiday Season)

Holidays.CoffeeWith November here, the holiday season is officially underway. This time of year is typically associated with warm, happy emotions full of joy and cheer; however, for a lot of us, this season may bring with it anxiety, stress, and depression. This can be due to things such as a tighter budget, extra commitments, and this year – an ongoing pandemic. At Garrett Counseling we understand how difficult the holidays can be, so we want to share a few tips to help you take care of your mental health this year:

Set Realistic Expectations: Rather than striving for perfection or to replicate a previous year’s celebrations, set reasonable and attainable goals for this year. For example, cooking a meal where every dish is homemade may not be a realistic goal, but cooking one or two dishes from scratch could be attainable. (At the end of this blog, Garrett Counseling’s Megan Campbell shares two of her favorite recipes for the holiday season!) Take time to discover what is reasonable for you this year and make that your goal.

Set Healthy Boundaries: There is only so much you can do this season. Saying “yes” to every invitation you receive may leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Rather than over committing yourself, say “no” to those activities for which your schedule does not have room.

Plan Ahead: Look at what you hope to do for the holidays, and try to plan out as much as you can ahead of time. Think about things such as deciding on a budget, who you want to purchase gifts for and making a list, designating a shopping day, and writing out the menu and ingredient list. By planning ahead, you can help eliminate some of the stress that comes with last minute decisions.

Get Outside: In the winter, we tend to spend a lot more time inside. Taking the time to bundle up and get outside can provide you with some mental health benefits such as providing an opportunity to clear your mind and reducing stress.

Keep Up Healthy Habits: As tempting as it can be to take a break from a healthy routine during a busy time of the year, make an effort to maintain positive habits. Neglecting healthy habits can leave you with feelings of stress and guilt once the season is over. This could mean continuing therapy, being as consistent as you can with your sleep schedule, or balancing indulgent treats with healthy snacks.

Garrett Counseling’s Megan Campbell says:

“The holiday season means something different for everyone. Some might find it exciting while others might find it discouraging. Be kind to others this season but also be kind to yourself. Practice self-care whether it be by watching the sunrise, going for a walk or cuddling up in a blanket with hot chocolate or coffee, give yourself a chance to rest.”

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season. If our counselors can support you during this season, please contact us by calling (256) 239-5662 or online by clicking here.


Two of Counselor Megan’s Favorite Recipes:

Chex™ Holiday Muddy Mix

Sometimes during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you need a recipe that is simple to put together! Megan says “Chex Mix is always a go to that is quick and easy. This is one of my favorites.”

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups Peanut Butter Chex™ cereal
  • 4 cups Chocolate Chex™ cereal
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup candy-coated peanut butter chocolate candies (red and green)

Instructions:

  • In large bowl, add cereals; set aside.
  • In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
  • Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool completely. Stir in candies. Store in airtight container.

**This original recipe, along with extra tips and a step-by-step video, can be found on the Chex™ website.

The Best Crockpot BBQ Chicken

While sometimes you may need something simple and quick, other times you may find yourself with the time and energy for something with a few more steps! Megan says, “Crockpot BBQ Chicken is another favorite, and it is a great comfort food with homemade mashed potatoes.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Season chicken breast lightly ( a small pinch per breast) with some sea salt and place in your crockpot.
  • In a mixing bowl combine BBQ sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined.
  • Pour over chicken, cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours
  • Once time is up, you can serve the breast whole, or shred with 2 forks. If shredding, recover and let cook in sauce for about 10-15 more minutes to soak up all that delish flavor.

**This original recipe, along with pictures and a step-by-step video, can be found on the Family Fresh Meals website.

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