5 Ways to Enjoy the Holiday Season

Mena Mirhom, MD


December 23, 2021

Welcome back to large crowds, family gatherings, and all that comes along with both. For some of us, those large holiday gatherings are marked on our calendar well in advance as something to cherish and look forward to. But for many, especially this particular year, it's not exactly the most wonderful time of the year.

So how do we cope with a potentially challenging or downright difficult time of the year?

As we've lost over 782,000 Americans over the course of this pandemic, we can't forget that we are a nation that is actively grieving. The loss of life and livelihood has taken a collective toll on us as a nation, and in order for us to gradually heal, we must recognize this impact.

Be Patient With Yourself

We often set a high bar of expectation for ourselves while demanding little of others. If you are one of the many of us who tend to be more critical of yourself, ask yourself this question: "Would I say this out loud to another person that I care about?" If you would not, consider reframing what you are saying to yourself at that moment.

Allow Yourself to Set Boundaries

"No" can be one of the kindest gifts that you can give yourself this holiday season. At times when we tend to become overwhelmed and take on way more than we have time for, learning the necessary skill of setting a boundary can be a life saver. This can apply to redirecting a topic of conversation that you would not like to discuss or as simple as declining a new task. We can keep in mind that any time we say yes to one thing, we naturally say no to another. We have limited time and limited energy. As much as we believe strongly in our ability to multitask, we all eventually reach our limit.

Beware of the Gram

Social media comparison can be particularly difficult around this time of the year. As we scroll though the filtered and neatly manicured moments of our loved ones, it can be helpful to keep in mind that the internet is not always reality. The negative impact of social media platforms like Instagram has been well documented and continues to be described. We may not be able to avoid our news feeds, but if we put them in their proper contexts, they have less power over our self-esteem.


That old adage that is "better to give than to receive" has some actual implications for our health and mood. There is an innate desire that we have to contribute and do something nice for others. If we cannot give of our finances, giving of our time is a powerful way to connect with others during this season. Research has shown us that this has a positive impact on our mental as well as our physical health.

Moderation Is Mighty

During this time of the year, there is a tendency to indulge. We may overeat, overdrink, and just overdo it. Whether it's the amount of time we spend with family or that one glass too many, moderation can be a helpful principle that can allow us to have a happier and healthier holiday season.

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About Dr. Mena Mirhom
Mena Mirhom, MD, is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and teaches writing to public psychiatry fellows. He is a board-certified psychiatrist and a consultant for the National Basketball Players Association, treating NBA players and staff.
Connect with him on Twitter @drmirhom, Instagram (@drmirhom), or at


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