December has arrived and Christmas is around the corner!
The holiday season is a busy time for most. There is so much to do, attend and plan, which can bring up feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, and depressed. This is also a time where people may feel acutely aware of the void left by the loss of a loved one, and their own personal loneliness.
Who is affected?
Holiday depression, anxiety and stress can affect anyone at any age. Sometimes, these feelings are triggered by a specific event or life experience. There are many things happening around the holidays that can act as triggers.
What can I do about this?
People who experience depression, anxiety and stress during the holidays may think that they should just be able to ‘get over it’ on their own. Others may need time to recognize how deeply this affects their life. If your holiday depression, anxiety or stress seems severe or is interfering with your job or home life, talk to your GP.
How can I help a loved one?
Supporting a loved one who is experiencing holiday depression, anxiety or stress can be difficult. You may not understand why your loved one feels or acts a certain way. Some people who experience this feel like they have to do things a certain way or avoid things or situations, and this can create frustration or conflict with others. You may feel pressured to take part in these behaviours or adjust your own behaviours to protect or avoid upsetting a loved one. Support can be a delicate balance, but you should expect recovery—in time.
Here are some general tips:
– Ask your loved one how you can help them.
– Be patient—learning and practising new coping strategies takes time.
– If your loved one is learning new skills, offer to help them practice.
– Listen and offer support, but avoid pushing unwanted advice.
– Set boundaries and seek support for yourself, if needed.
Here are some of the most common holiday triggers and tips to prevent holiday depression, anxiety and stress.
1. PLAN YOUR BUDGET
There are many expenses during the holiday seasons. Wherever your buying presents, food or travelling, you may get in the habit of overextending yourself.
Plan your budget in advance of the holiday season.
Only spend cash of debit
Host a Secret Santa. Buy one gift for your group of friends or family.
2. TAKE A BREAK
The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to take some time out of your day to day life and gain some perspective to reflect on the year. Whether spending time away from home or having a stay-cation, re-energise by giving yourself a change of scene or pace. Practising mindfulness can help you unwind.
3. LIMIT YOUR INACTIVITY
During the winter months our activity level slows down and there are many opportunities to eat rich food that can lead to feelings of guilt.
When you plan your holiday schedule, allow yourself opportunities to be active.
Be gentle with yourself and understand that your goal is to limit consumption or inactivity, not eliminate entirely
4. LEARN WHEN TO SAY NO
Lots of us find ourselves inundated with invitations leading up to Christmas and in the week before New Year’s Eve, and it is very difficult to turn them down. After all, we tell ourselves, it only happens once a year. But over-doing it with the parties can turn a chance for some well-deserved R&R into a recovery period, so you end up back at work feeling like you need another holiday. The key is to learn how to say ‘no’ to invites — not to all of them, of course; just enough to allow you to have some real down-time.
5. STAY CONNECTED
Loneliness and isolation can be a big concern for many people during the holidays.
Pick up a Winter hobby or join a group. This will give you planned interactions
Volunteer with a local non- profits. It is humble and rewarding and you can make some new friends.
Keep on the lookout for some free holiday activities happening in your community.
If you know that you have a tough time during this season, tell people to check up on you.
6. HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OF YOURSELF AND OTHERS
Holidays aren’t a time to address long-term conflict.
Try to let go of past negative feelings at least for that one day. It will help get through the holidays and enable everyone to enjoy the time together. Try to have an open mind and remain more relaxed during the celebrations.
7. MANAGE SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to changes in seasons. The symptoms include tiredness, depression, mood changes, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, insomnia.
Treatment for SAD may include light therapy, psychotherapy and medications.
Speak to mental health professional in your community about the options available to you.
8. BE GRATEFUL
As the year comes to a close, many of us reflect on what has changed and what stayed the same.
Take stock of things that are going well and you have done well.
When we always look at what we don ́t have, we forget what we do have.
Give yourself credit.
Look to the future with optimism.
Don ́t set New Year’s Resolutions as they put unnecessary pressure on you. If you want to make a resolution to change something, start today.