The holiday season is here, bringing along with it dozens of parties, days upon days of shopping, countless hours of gift wrapping, decorating, cooking, baking, entertaining…
…and, for millions of Americans, stress and depression.
From dealing with unwelcome guests and overexcited children, to diet and exercise woes, the demands of the holiday season can be dizzying, to say the least. Here are 10 simple tips for coping with stress & depression over the holiday season:
1. Acknowledge & accept your feelings. Especially if you are mourning the loss of a loved one or recovering from a recent break-up, acknowledge and accept your feelings of sadness. Express yourself—you don’t have to be happy just because the holidays are around the corner.
2. Ask for help. Maybe you need help with cooking and baking, or gift wrapping and decorating. Or maybe you just need a friend who can listen and lift your spirits. Surround yourself with people who can offer support and companionship.
3. Embrace tradition—and also change. As families grow, traditions often change—and that’s okay. Maybe your adult children can’t make it home for the holidays like they used to. Instead, suggest another way to stay connected, such as sharing daily pictures or videos. Don’t let a lost tradition get you down or create stress.
4. Forget about your grudges. No family is perfect, and there is almost always tension between a few family members. Just for the holiday season, try to leave the past in the past and set grievances aside until the holidays have gone. It’s not easy to be the bigger person, but it will help reduce stress and depression and make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.
5. Budget, budget, budget. Avoid financial stress over the holidays by setting—and sticking to—a budget. Decide what you can afford to spend on gifts and food, and don’t look back. Consider making homemade gifts, or starting a family gift exchange rather than everyone buying gifts for everyone.
6. Plan in advance. Schedule your shopping and cooking days into your calendar. Plan menus and make shopping lists ahead of time. Forget the last-minute scrambling and stressing and be prepared for the demands of the holiday season.
7. Say ‘no.’ There is no need to commit to every party, every parade, every Yankee Swap, or every festive event. Saying ‘yes’ when you shouldn’t causes resentment, overwhelm, and unnecessary stress. It’s okay to say ‘no’ sometimes!
8. Try to stay healthy. It’s so easy to abandon our diet and exercise regimens when the holidays hit. Overindulging, however, often leads to increased feelings of guilt, stress and depression. Try to eat a healthy snack before holiday parties, make sure you get plenty of sleep, and set aside time to exercise every day—even if all you have time for is a quick walk or jog.
9. Practice self-care. Reduce stress by clearing your mind and restoring inner calm on a daily basis. At the end of the day, meditate for 15 minutes, take a relaxing bath, or unwind with a good book. Taking 15 minutes of ‘you time’ every day will help keep stress levels low.
10. Get professional help if you need it. If, despite your best efforts, you still find yourself struggling with persistent sadness, anxiety, physical pain, irritability, and feelings of hopelessness, please speak with a doctor or mental health professional. Your physical and mental wellbeing is more important than any holiday. Take care of yourself first.
The holidays aren’t always merry and bright for everyone, and that’s okay. Be mindful of your feelings as the holidays near, and make sure you take care of yourself. If you start feeling holiday stress and depression, take a step back and practice some of these tips to get it under control.
If you struggle with depression during the holidays—or during any time of the year—ketamine infusions may be able to help. If seasonal depression is affecting your ability to face routine life, contact Vitalitas Denver. Our clinical team will answer your questions and point you in the direction of health and wellness.