If you’re anything like me, the holiday season brings out the best stress. For many of us, the holiday season is jam-packed with family, friends, parties, shopping, cleaning, entertaining, and that’s just the start. All of these actives are worthwhile and can be fun, but can also invite some not so welcomed guests… stress and anxiety.
For others, the holidays can bring feelings of disappointment, loneliness, sadness, and even depression. In fact, 64% of people say their mental health issues increase over the holiday season.
Just releasing expectations and knowing that everything doesn’t have to be (and very likely won’t be) like the Lifetime holiday movies is a good place to start. Here are a few other tips to prepare for that mental dip that can come during the holidays:
- Reach out and talk about your feelings. If you’re feeling lonely or sad, seek out family and friends, or community or social events where people that can offer you support and much needed companionship. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings, and know that you don’t need to force yourself to have that “holiday cheer” just because it’s that time of year. If needed seek professional help by speaking with a mental health professional.
- Agree to disagree. One of the favorite holiday sayings in our extended family is, “agree to disagree.” Not everyone is going to have the same values and beliefs, or live up to your expectations. Take time to set these differences aside, and be understanding that others may be feeling the effects of holiday depression and stress.
- Create a schedule. Plan ahead by determining certain days for baking, visiting friends, shopping and other events. Jot everything down on a calendar to stay organized to help prevent any last-minute errands or scrambling.
- Say no. Learning that it’s okay to say no is very important, especially in such a busy time of the year. Saying yes when you know you want to say no can leave you feeling stressed, angry, and overwhelmed.
- Budget. Set a budget and stick to it. Gifts, decorations, food, and much more can add up quite quickly, so decide on how much money you can afford to spend and then stick to it. Going over budget can leave you with stress for months to come. One of my favorite holiday memories is the year my brother was strapped for cash and wrapped random items from around the house as gifts… My dad was looking for his slippers for about 3 hours before they finally reappeared as one of my gifts.
- Stay healthy. Make sure to stick to getting plenty of sleep and continue to incorporate physical activities into each day. Before going to social events or out running errands have or pack a healthy snack. While going to parties it can be very easy to overindulge in desserts and drinks.
- Self-care. Set aside “me time,” each day. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, it will help relieve stress and clear your mind. Go on a walk or short hike, take a bath, read, get your nails done, do yoga, or take a quick power nap to help recharge.
Taking a few simple preventative steps like those listed above will help reduce stress and depression that can come like unwelcome guests during the holiday season. Step back and take time to recognize the triggers so you can combat them. Remember to plan, set realistic expectations, stay optimistic, take a deep breath, and try to enjoy. Wishing your family peaceful and happy holiday season!
Director of Professional Relations