Along with trees to trim and halls to deck, it seems the holiday season brings added stress for everyone. For those suffering from even mild depression, the holidays can tip the scales from “doing okay,” to not. That’s easy to understand because the holidays have gone from being a simple celebration with family, to weeks and weeks of parties, gift-exchanges, concerts, and all manner of festivities. Each activity, in itself, is enjoyable, but too many are exhausting.
If you suffer from depression or find yourself overwhelmed by seasonal stress, take the time to simplify the season in your own mind. Take stock of the things that really matter to you and protect yourself from trying to do more than is healthy. If the truth were known, everyone would probably benefit from stepping back from the holiday rush to examine the heart of the season. What do you really want to do and enjoy? It would be wise to trim the rest away. Here are five ways to help you cope with the stress of the holiday season.
- First of all be honest about the things that are stressful in your life. Have you lost a loved one or been through a divorce? Are there difficult family situations that the holidays bring to bear? Whatever the source of the feelings, it’s okay to look it right in the face.
- Check your calendar and your circumstances. Evaluate the things you want to include in your holiday celebrations and say no to the rest. Protect your hours of sleep and get plenty of exercise.
- Stay on a budget so you don’t add overspending to other problems at this time of the year. Limit the number of gifts purchased for family and friends. Cut out unnecessary gift-giving to co-workers and casual acquaintances.
- Do at least one thing for others. Give a gift to a good cause, volunteer in the community, or offer a kindness to someone else who has a hard time in this time of the year that is supposed to be filled with joy. Enlist the family in these activities. They’ll see a wider expression of gift-giving than just within the family. They’ll learn the joy of giving to others.
- Be open to talking to friends or professionals when necessary. The holidays are stressful for everyone, don’t try to “go it alone.” If you have a regular counselor, be sure to check in with him or her. Talk to good friends or your spouse. The holidays can be joy-filled when managed well.
*All of these suggestions are general ways to ward off the woes that try to invade the holidays. They are mostly common sense. In the case of serious mental health problems, see your physician. The links below offer more information on seasonal depression. Be proactive, enjoy your holidays.
Coping with Depression During the Holiday Season: When Sadness Clashes with Celebration, by Denise Mann. www.webmd.com.
Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping, from the Mayo Clinic Staff, www.mayoclinic.org.
When the Holidays Turn Depressing by Dr. Charles Raison, CNN contributor. www.cnn.com
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