The holidays are often considered to be a time of joy and thanksgiving; however it is also fairly common for people to become more depressed during the holidays. Often around the holidays people feel pressured to be happy and if they are not, they feel guilty or isolated. Additionally, with the holidays usually comes the expectation of spending time with family, but if you’re not close with your family or have challenges with spending time with family, this pressure can make it difficult. Furthermore, if someone has lost someone close to them, the holidays can further remind them of that loss, whether the loss happened near the holidays or not. Four days before Christmas is the shortest day of the year, which means it has the least amount of sunlight of any other day. The limited sunlight can affect our mood and contribute to depression. Finally, with all the pressure to buy a lot of gifts at the holidays, if someone is financially struggling, this can make the holidays very stressful.
There are some things you can do to lessen the impact of the stress of the holidays or to help you feel less depressed. Here are some tips for surviving the holidays:
Learn to say no.
We often feel that we have to say yes to everything – to every request, to every invitation. This can make us feel like we’re overextending ourselves, which can lead to stress, but also the more exposure we get to family, parties, and other holiday events, it makes us think more about that which makes us stressed. Say no to things that you don’t really want to do and don’t overextend yourself.
Do charity work.
Sometimes the holidays can feel overindulgent or materialistic. Do some charity work, volunteer, or take advantage of the programs for helping the less fortunate. The Salvation Army is a good resource for helping others. Adopt a family or pick one of those stars off the giving trees to buy a child a gift.
Watch less TV.
Around the holidays, the media is surging with holiday commercials, pressuring you to buy presents and get the best deals of the season. This adds general stress to reminding us that the holidays are upon us and also makes us feel financially pressured.
Focus on the true meaning or spirit of the holidays.
If you are religious or spiritual, you can focus on these aspects of the holidays. Think more about this than the material, commercial part of the holidays. If expensive or extravagant gift-giving is difficult or impossible, spend time with family or friends and celebrate in more simplistic ways.
Take care of yourself more than usual during this time of year. A lot of times we’re so focused on doing everything for everyone else during the holidays, we forget about taking care of ourselves. See the previous blog on self-care for ideas on how to take care of yourself.
*Disclaimer: the information provided in this blog contains opinions of the writer and are not intended to be used for counseling or crisis management purposes. If you need help with a mental health problem, please find a therapist in your area. If you are experiencing a psychological or medical emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.