The holiday season is supposed to be a time of happiness, celebration and family togetherness. However, the holidays can be a significant source of stress, depression and anxiety for some individuals for various reasons. The holiday season is the source of unique pressures and expectations that may not be felt at other times of the year. With the beginning of the new year may also come reflection about regrets in life. If you find yourself stressed out or depressed as this holiday season approaches, there are some coping mechanisms that you can employ to reduce your stress and get through the holidays in a healthy way.
One of the major sources of stress during the holiday season is unrealistic expectations. If you are hosting a holiday party for your family, you may be obsessing over everything being perfect for everyone. However, much of how the holiday turns out is out of your control, and you have to realize that. It may be exciting to plan a party, but if planning for a holiday party is stressing you out, you may need to take a step back and realize that you are not going to be able to make it perfect, and that is okay. Do not set yourself up for disappointment; you will have a better time if you are more lenient.
Many people also have an ideal holiday concept. It may be the way you used to celebrate the holidays years ago, or it may be someone being there who has died or who can’t make it this year. Part of setting realistic expectations for the holidays is realizing that people and situations change, and that you will not be able to make a holiday exactly the way it used to be in the past.
If there are some problems between you and family members who are going to be there for the holidays, it is a good time to set your differences aside and not bring up sensitive topics. If you need to discuss something with someone, you should talk to them in private, not in front of the family while everyone else is trying to enjoy themselves.
While excessive planning is a bad thing, it is a good idea to set a budget. If you spend too much on gifts or food and money is tight, you will be more stressed in January. The holidays do not have to be an extravagant time if your means do not allow for it.
If you need help with holiday planning, do not be afraid to ask other people for help. Putting all of that stress on one person is not healthy, especially if you have a history of holiday stress and depression. However, if someone asks you to do something and you can’t, you can say no. Know your limits. You can do your part, but do not take on more than you can handle.
If you are depressed, do not overindulge with alcohol and food during the holidays. It is okay to enjoy yourself, but overdoing it will just make you more depressed once the holidays are over. Alcohol is also a depressant, so your negative feelings will be amplified if you drink too much.
If the stress of the holidays is getting to you, make sure to take a short amount of time for yourself. You do not have to repress your feelings, but dealing with them in a healthy way will get you through the holiday season and reduce post-holiday depression.