The holidays may be seen as a time to relax and connect with loved ones but for an overwhelming number of adults, it’s just the opposite.
A 2021 survey of 2,000 individuals saw 88% characterize the holidays as the most stressful time of the year. This means that you’re not alone if turkeys and toys trigger panic in your gut, and it also means that you, like millions of others, may benefit from strategizing around how to manage stress this holiday season.
What’s Behind Holiday Anxiety?
Of those surveyed, 56% cited financial strain as their biggest source of anxiety, while 35% named stressful family events. The combination of economic pressure and family tension is enough to shake anyone off their foundation, and so it’s no surprise that mental health episodes spike around the holidays. Preparing for this means strategizing around how to cope with stress when it’s within your control and how to practice resilience when it isn’t.
Family gatherings are always charged events. Whenever people who share a deep history all gather around a table, there’s plenty of opportunity for escalated emotions. Add to this the current divisive political climate in the US, and the chances of things going off the rails grow higher still.
While those of an older generation may abide by the conventional wisdom that polite company doesn’t talk about religion, sex, politics, or money, young folks have a different take. Often, a willingness to engage in a loaded subject like discrimination, privilege, and social responsibility is read as a sign of caring, especially by those who suffer from inequality. While the grandparents – or aunts, uncles, or other family members – may be doing their best to keep the peace by tamping down on the delicate subject matter, the grandkids may feel that this very impulse is the problem.
To Manage Stress: Wriggling Out from Between a Rock and a Hard Place
You can’t control anybody else’s behavior, but you can control how you respond. Often, the best way to navigate dicey territory is to see what’s coming and plan your reaction.
1. Set Boundaries
Communication demands generosity. You need to be willing to listen to have a conversation, and yet this doesn’t mean you should overextend yourself. Whatever your position in the family, you have a right to feel comfortable and so if at any point the gathering veers into triggering territory, don’t hesitate to say, “this topic makes me uncomfortable, do you mind if we chat about something else?”
2. Excuse Yourself or Set a Time to Leave
You might know long before you’re ever seated that you don’t have more than a few hours of emotional energy before you need to recharge alone. If this is the case, set this expectation early and don’t feel bad about sticking to it. If at any point you feel the need to step away, politely communicate this and let anyone who objects be responsible for their own reaction.
3. Prioritize Self-Care Before and After
Holiday gatherings often trigger mental health crises. Having your whole family in one room can be too much sometimes. In anticipation of this, design a care plan. Speak to your therapist or physician about any changes you might make to your mental health treatment regimen, and don’t hesitate to consider alternative treatments if what you’re currently doing doesn’t work
Contact Vitalitas Denver
To learn more about how to manage stress around the holidays or to address any other matter related to mental health care, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation at Vitalitas Denver—a ketamine clinic staffed by a qualified and experienced full suite of dedicated medical professionals.