Holiday Depression & Stress, How to Manage Holiday Blues
As the holiday season approaches, here at Rhapsody Counseling are mindful this time of the year people experience a wide range of emotions. Balancing the seasonal demands of shopping, holiday parties, obligations to family & friends may contribute to feeling overwhelmed and with an increased level of tension. Holiday depression refers to the span of time from mid November through mid January and encompassing the holidays of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah/Christmas, Kwanza and other cultural based holidays. Mental health stressors are everywhere and can lead to physical problems, including sleeplessness, irritability or fatigue. While many celebrate the season, others feel depressed, sad, lonely, and anxious or stressed during the holiday season.
In between the cleaning, cooking, shopping, and family get-togethers, it can become difficult to manage the expectations of a perfect holiday experience. Common sources of sadness during the holidays include unrealistic expectations, fatigue, family conflict, financial burdens and the emotionally stressful memories of past holidays or lost loved ones.
These 6 strategies can help you manage holiday stress, seasonal anxiety, and successfully navigate through the holiday season.
- Make connections. Positive relationships with family and friends are important. When relationships are strained adjust your expectations, defuse arguments, and don’t get caught up in others’ conflicts, issues and disagreements. Reach out to anyone you know that might be alone.
- Set priorities, grounded realistic goals, and keep everything in perspective. Adjusting expectations is essential in controlling stress. Before too many activities overwhelm you decide what is important to you.
- Be aware of your past responses to holiday stress, and prepare your plan for managing holiday stress this year. This is typically a time of year that people over indulge in unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol, overspending, and overeating.
- Stay within your budget. Stick to your holiday spending plan and don’t budge! Financial strain has been reported as one of the most significant components of holiday stress, and the consequences of overspending can extend far into the new year.
- Take care of yourself. Attend to your needs and feelings during the holidays. Engage in activities that you find fun and relaxing. Activities, movies, games, things that make you laugh, spending time with pets, quiet time alone or with a loved one can all help reduce stress. Make choices aligned to the best interest of your health & wellness, exercise and get enough sleep.
- Ask for help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to co-workers, supervisors, family members, as all possible sources of assistance should you feel overwhelmed in some aspect of your life. Know Rhapsody Counseling is a safe space where you can decompress, unwind, be listened to and supported. Speaking to a wellness professional can be enormously beneficial in getting through the holiday season.
We understand people feel and process stress differently. We encourage you to define what holiday anxiety and stress means to you, and how you know you are approaching your tipping point and are indeed at a ‘risk point’. Identify the holiday situations you might find yourself in that trigger feelings of stress – and have a ‘course correction’ plan to navigate yourself through these moments. We’re here for you!
Remember, “Post Holiday Blues” are also a thing. The first week of January means a return to reality and business as usual. For some, perhaps, the holidays were not as festive or celebratory as hoped for, plans fell through, or expectations were not realized. Some have guilt from spending too much money, overeating and drinking too much. It is important to realize that we are not alone with these feelings. Here are some strategies to survive the blues and get back on track for the new year:
- Expect some letdown
- Be kind and easy on yourself—especially when it comes to New Year resolution(s)
- Keep being around people, 5. Choose activities to help you look forward to something
- Make healthy food & exercise choices
- This is a great time to consider visiting a mental wellness professional and turning things around that have manifested overtime and been bothering you
- Expect to enjoy the year ahead