The holiday season is supposed to be full of joy and cheer, but that is not how everyone experiences it throughout the holiday season. Taking care of your own wellness is paramount. Here we share some of the most common holiday triggers and tips to help reduce holiday stress, depression, and anxiety.
Experiencing Family Overload
As much as we may like to believe, not everyone gets along with their family members. You may also be asked to participate in things or contribute more time than you can handle. Advice to manage this is to stay grounded in what you can commit to and what you can not. Set boundaries to keep yourself well and share those with your family. It is unlikely that everyone in your family will understand and be okay knowing that you are taking care of yourself.
If necessary, set limits for visiting time. No rule states you need to stay all day and evening. If it seems too much, only visit for a couple of hours instead. And if you are staying over at another family member’s place during the holidays, be comfortable letting them know that you will be taking some alone time throughout your visit to relax and recharge.
Spending Too Much Money During the Holidays
We all want to make everyone happy during the holidays, and the way many people in North America choose to do that is by purchasing gifts. Advertising and social media get into our minds and has us thinking we need to show our love and appreciation through the latest gadgets and other expensive items. And while there may be that moment of joy when the people in our lives open gifts, the impact is often short-lived. What isn’t, though, is the incoming credit card bill in January.
A big credit card bill can bring stress and heavy emotion during the darkest month of the year. Instead, take on shifting the conversation this holiday season. Be responsible and do not spend beyond your means. Plan your budget and use cash or debit to avoid the large bill in January.
Feeling Lonely and Isolated
We see on TV shows and movies big families getting together, but many people spend the holidays alone in reality. This can leave a person experiencing isolation and loneliness. Fortunately, there are many free and local holiday activities. Check out a community events calendar where you live and see what is happening there. You can also visit a site like MeetUp.com and join a group there. Groups you can find may have a common interest in things like hiking, board games, restaurant-hopping, crafts, and many more.
Volunteering is also a great way to get out of the house and shift your mindset during the holidays. Volunteers are often warm and welcoming by nature. Beyond giving back to others, it is an opportunity to meet great people.
Dealing with Loss and Grief
Holidays can be a big reminder of the loss of a loved one. While we may want to keep our feelings quiet not to dampen the mood, it is important to share and be open. There is a good chance others in your circle of family and friends are experiencing similar emotions.
Instead of keeping quiet, acknowledge the season will not be the same without them. Create a new tradition to embrace new beginnings. The new tradition could capture memories of that person or be entirely new. And spend time with supportive and caring people who will give you space and freedom to be yourself during this time.
Suffering the Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD is a real thing. This type of depression is related to the change in season. There is less sunshine during the winter season. The sun rises later, sets earlier, and there are many daytime hours with snow clouds above us. If you are experiencing feeling blue, consider joining a support group. In part, the effect could be due to a shortage of Vitamin D and lower levels of activity. Walks, vitamin D supplements, and mood lighting may help, but we suggest visiting your family physician to talk it over for your specific situation.
Reflecting on the Year that Was
As the year comes to a close, many of us take time to reflect on what has changed over the past year. While we aim to focus on what we accomplished, many get stuck in looking at what did not happen or fell short on. If you are heading down that road of negative self-talk, take a moment to interrupt it and instead give yourself credit for the things going well in your life. Look for even the smallest things. It is the little things that can make a big difference over time.
In this same conversation, it is common to take on setting New Year Resolutions. When setting these resolutions, it is often common to set unrealistic goals that instantly cause added stress and pressure to meet. Instead, take on creating a small and manageable resolution. Take on setting a resolution that begins later in the year (instead of right away on January 1st), or give up creating resolutions at all!
If you are finding yourself stressed and overwhelmed…
Take a moment to note the phone numbers listed below. If you find yourself in a situation where you are stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, reach out to these organizations. It is what they are here for, and you are not alone (or they would not exist).
First, if you are in immediate crisis, do not hesitate to call 911. That is what the service is there for, so if you need it, use it.
Here are some other organizations that are available to you:
From our team at Bryson, we wish you a happy holiday season. Be sure to take care of yourself.
Mind yourself and mind your mental health.