Dealing with Holiday Stress
The holidays are, for many, a time of joy and excitement. But sometimes, this time of the year can be one of dread due to the amount of stress and anxiety it can produce. The reasons are many, and the outcome can be significant.
Causes for stress, anxiety, and depression during the holidays can range from past memories of happier times, personal loss, weather-related depression, lack of support through the season, unrealistic expectations, finances, and things like weight gain, substance use, and family conflict. All aspects of one’s life can be affected: work, activities of daily living, and relationships. Some of this may occur for a short duration, and other stresses or their impact may last long term.
As with anything, a little self-awareness can go a long way. Working to understand that we can’t do everything and please everybody (easier said than done!) might be the beginning of less stress. Accepting that we are not always in control of how things work out and how other people feel can be useful to release some holiday worries. Other tips for feeling better during the holidays include:
- Keep your normal routines. Do things that are comfortable and familiar.
- Accept some feelings of sadness and anxiety. Know that these are temporary, and you will probably feel better when the holidays are over.
- Spend time with people who are affirming and enjoyable.
- Manage your time and be ready to say no when things get to be too much.
- Try not to overdo food or drink.
- Do things that relax you during non-holiday times: read, listen to music, take walks, or engage in hobbies.
- Rely on your faith-based community.
- Volunteer and give back. Be grateful. Make a gratitude list.
Get ready for the holidays. Chances are that some of the same things create stress each year. Plan ahead and put things in place to reduce the stress and put your supports in place as early as possible. Set priorities and let others know what they are. This may mean things like having no-alcohol celebrations, pre-arranged budgets for gifts, or saying no to traveling. Reduce time on social media where everything is perfect and what is shared may only be a glimpse of what is real.
Pay attention, though. If feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety do not seem to subside after the holidays, seeking professional support may be in order. If you are living with mental illness, take care to maintain your health supports during the season. You already know that maintaining medication routines and attending support groups and meetings make a difference. Stay on track in your recovery. If you can’t seem to regroup, seek additional help. A free and confidential assessment may be what you need to understand if treatment for a mental health condition is needed. Call Lake Behavioral Hospital for some holiday or post-holiday help. We are waiting to help you. Our team is available 24/7 at 855-990-1900.