Stress, Depression and the holidays: 8 Tips for Coping

The holiday season is upon us. For many that means great food, family, and time off. To others the holidays can become stressful and anxiety provoking. The holidays can bring out uninvited guests-depression and stress.
The hussle and bussle of holiday preparation: cooking, shopping, gift wrapping, and entertaining can be exhausting just to think about. If food is an issue (dieting, food allergies, history of overeating) then a lot of preparation goes into the holiday meals and it can cause stress.

Here are a few tips to survive the holidays and maybe even enjoy them.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died, you or a loved one is sick or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. Don’t force yourself to feel things that you don’t.
  2. Reach out. Many people feel lonely around this time of year. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. Be realistic. Listen up Type As and perfectionists: the holidays don’t have to be perfect. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. If you are missing one side dish or someone forgets the dessert, it’s not the end of the world.
  4. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness.
  5. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. This will also help you stick to your budget. Get family and friends to party prep and cleanup.
  6. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
  7. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone to help you refresh. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
  8. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor, therapist or a mental health professional.

Don’t let the holidays become dreadful. Take steps to prevent holiday stress and depression. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown.

Happy Holidays From Elika Kormeili and Center For Healthy and Happy Living.

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