Managing Your Stress and Depression During the Holidays
User: will
Date: 6/17/2008 12:06 pm
Views: 2890
Rating: 0

I am writing this article as the summer is turning to fall and it is amazing to think that the winter holiday season is fast approaching.  I have already started talking to others about how I plan to take care of myself this year.  One way I will do this is by starting my shopping now. This takes some organization, but I have found that it is less stressful taking the time now to organize myself, rather than dealing with the holiday rush and crowds.


While the holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, this can also be a stressful time of the year.  For many people, the holiday season is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past “failures”, and anxiety about an uncertain future.  Stress can be caused by:

  1. High expectations
  2. Over commercialization
  3. Financial stress
  4. Family relationships (either being away from family or being together)
  5. Over scheduling of parties and celebrations

Here are some strategies for managing your stress and depression during this time:

  1. Recognize what triggers stress for you and how you handle stress. If changes are necessary, change one behavior at a time.
  2. Identify how you would like to honor yourself, friends, and family during the season. Find ways to incorporate past traditions with changing needs and expectations.
  3. Prioritize and organize.  It might not be possible to attend every function you are invited to.  Set realistic goals and pace yourself.  If you have bad feelings about someone, try and avoid him or her and not make an issue of it: but, don’t pretend that all is well. This will enable you to feel true to yourself and less stressed out.
  4. Let others help plan and organize activities.
  5. Set a spending limit.  If you have children, use this as an opportunity to teach them that they can not always get what they want.  It is okay to tell your child that a certain toy is too expensive. You can also tell your children that Mom and Dad (and Santa Claus) will try to choose the most suitable present for the child. If your financial resources are limited try to find inexpensive and personal ways you can acknowledge those around you (e.g., make a holiday decoration, suggest a grab bag).
  6. Take care of yourself.  Schedule needed doctor and dentist appointments.  Maintain a healthy eating plan.  Continue with your exercise plan or other activities that you enjoy (e.g., book club, scrapbooking, etc.).
  7. Consider taking care of others by volunteering some time at a homeless shelter, nursing home, or hospital.
  8. It is normal to feel some depression during this season.  Try to curb your drinking since it increases feelings of depression. Seek support from friends and family if needed.  


If these tips do not work for you, or if you feel that your depression and/or anxiety is not just related to the holiday season, please contact a local professional for assistance.


References:  
Coping With Holiday Stress (2004). Washington, DC: American Psychological
Association.  Retrieved from http://www.apahelpcenter.org .
Holiday Depression & Stress (2007).  Alexandria, VA.  Mental Health America.  
Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net .

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