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Sometimes, it is difficult to feel in the “holly, jolly” spirit during the holidays. To add insult to injury, this holiday season comes with added stress and anxiety. If you aren’t careful, the holidays can end up burning you out, and when it’s all over, you may be more exhausted than before the season began. Being mindful of your mental health is potentially the most important thing you can do for self-preservation. 

Creativity can help focus and soothe the mind, putting you in a better mindset to enjoy your life by reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. In a 2016 study, scientists found that no matter their skill, people who engaged in creative activities had a 75% decrease in cortisol (stress hormone) levels compared to those who did not. Therefore, art therapy and other ways to tap into creative processes can ease stress. 

Here are creative activities our therapists thought would be low stress, relatively low effort and sure to boost spirits during the holidays. 

Build a Gingerbread House or Bake Cookies 

You may not think something as simple as baking cookies or decorating a gingerbread house can help your mental health, but it’s true. Baking cookies can be low effort, low stress, and will make your house smell like the holidays in no time. It is proven that our olfactory system and what we smell can influence our mood. Building a gingerbread house allows your creativity to run wild, serving as a blank canvas for your best designs. The same applies to decorating cookies. And nothing beats the smell of freshly baked cookies!! 

Listen to Upbeat Christmas Music 

Music has always been an outlet for many, and it has been shown scientifically to channel our creativity and elevate our mood. While blasting “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey may not sound like it will impact your health, it does more for your mental state than you may think. Belt out the lyrics, bust a few moves, and you will surely notice a change in your demeanor. Your brain will thank you! 

Write, Color, Doodle! 

What did we do before adult coloring books became popular? We doodled! You may have gotten yelled at in school for doodling, but studies prove that putting pen to paper boosts creativity and lifts spirits. By allowing your imagination to wander, there is a sense of catharsis. Additionally, coloring has the potential to relax the fear centers of the amygdala reducing the thoughts of a restless mind. While many believe coloring to be a children’s activity, there are countless adult coloring books on the market because of their proven ability to help people relax. 

Decorate! 

Believe it or not, decorating your living space can add immense value to your everyday life. By adding lights, holiday scented candles, and other decorations, you may have a more optimistic outlook than you expected. Nostalgia is tied to optimism and therefore plays a role in the positive vibes we feel from decorating. 

Make Time for Holiday Hobbies 

People who have hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression. Especially around the holidays, indulging in a holiday hobby is fairly simple. When you stop focusing on others and start focusing on your own happiness, you will feel more connected to yourself and the people around you. DIY projects are huge, and learning to make your own candles, crafting a wreath for your door, or even learning to play a new song on an instrument will alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety. 

There are many low-stress, low-anxiety, and even low-cost ways to lift your spirits during the holiday season. Choosing activities that make you feel at ease is key to boosting holiday spirits and avoiding holiday burnout. 

Contact Creative Counseling Center