The signs of the holiday season are all around us. Sights, sounds, and loved ones bring joy and blessings to our lives. But the truth is, all those joyous things can get overwhelming, and fast!
Financial pressures and personal demands can bring enormous anxiety or depression. For some, those feelings subside as our regular routines take hold, but for others, those feelings amplify to devastating intensities.
It important to take a moment to check in with yourself and gauge the level of stress you’re experiencing during the seasonal hustle and bustle. Here are 10 tips to prevent holiday stress and depression from Mayo Clinic.
- Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died 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. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
- Reach out. 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.
- Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. 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.
- Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
- 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 with an avalanche of gifts.
- Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
- Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
- Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
- 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 or a mental health professional.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, our expert friends at VIA LINK provide free counseling via phone, text, or chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 211 or visit VIALINK.org to access help.
Need a surefire tip to boost your mood? Consider volunteering in the new year and take advantage of the health benefits of giving back and connecting through volunteerism.
As we look toward 2020, we encourage you to make your health and well-being a priority. And if you resolve to give back more to your community, even better! Either way, United Way is here to help.