By Stacey Rose, LCSW, PhD
As the weather changes, the days get shorter, and the music we hear is the latest version of ʻSanta Claus is coming to townʼ, we know the holidays are upon us. But no matter which holiday you celebrate and regardless of how you celebrate, you just canʼt deny that the energy in the air is different. Some people love the holiday season, getting together with family and friends to reminisce about the year, set goals for the following year, give thanks about all their blessings and share both gifts and love. Other people simply loathe everything about the holidays. While the suicide rate is actually not higher during the holidays, feelings of depression can be. So, are you one of these people who struggles at this time of year? To ﬁnd out, read on…
- Do you have unrealistic expectations of the holidays?
- Do you feel pressured to see certain people or attend certain functions?
- Do you feel ﬁnancial stress?
- Do you feel obligated to buy gifts for people you may not want to?
- Do you tend to drink/eat more during the holidays?
- Did you lose a loved one during the holiday season?
- Do you have negative memories of holidays past?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is possible you may feel more stressed or depressed around the holidays. Even if you answered no to all of these questions, you still may experience ʻnormalʼ stress around the holiday season as even positive experiences can elicit stress. So, what can you do? Try any of the following:
- Make your expectations more realistic. While you may have a ʻwonderful lifeʼ, it may not be something out of T.V. or movies.
- Say ʻnoʼ when you want to; be kind about it but donʼt do too much of what you donʼt want to do.
- Start planning on what you want to spend and on whom. Start budgeting as early as possible. Ask friends and family if you can share time together instead of buying each other tangible items.
- If you know you may turn to alcohol or food more during this time of year, build in extra workouts. Ask for help from friends to exercise together.
- Find healthy ways to cope with stress such as yoga, journal writing, listening to calming music, or watching a funny movie.
- If you are grieving at this time, ﬁnd support from friends, family, or seek professional help. Bereavement groups (which can be found online) can provide great comfort.
- Remind yourself that you are in control of you and your choices. Create the type of holiday you want and let go of those and that which you have no control.
Most of all, be good to yourself. Happy Holidays!