The holidays can be a joy-filled season, but they can also be stressful. Stress and depression can not only ruin the holidays, but can be harmful to your health as well. Having realistic expectations, planning ahead, and asking for help can reduce stress and depression.
Here are some suggestions for how you can reduce stress and maintain good mental health during the holiday season:
Acknowledge your Feelings & Accept your needs. Be kind to yourself and put your own mental and physical well-being first. It’s ok to take time and express your feelings. Know what your triggers are to help you prepare for stressful situations, once you know this, you can take steps to avoid or cope with stress.
Manage your time and don’t try to do too much. Prioritizing your time and activities can help you use your time well. Making a schedule helps ensure you don’t feel overwhelmed by tasks and deadlines. It’s okay to say no to plans that don’t fit into your schedule or make you feel good.
Be realistic. As families change and grow, traditions often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. Sometimes, it’s simply not possible to find the perfect gift or have a peaceful time with family. Family dynamics can be complex. Acknowledge them and accept that you can only control your role. Try to accept family members, friends, and the holidays as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations.
Don’t Abandon Healthy Practices. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Not taking care of yourself and overindulgence will only add to your stress. Try these suggestions:
- Exercise daily. Schedule time to take a walk or bike ride. Whatever you do, make sure it’s fun. Daily exercise improves your overall physical health.
- Set aside time for yourself. Make time for activities that recharge you such as reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to your favorite music. It’s okay to prioritize alone time.
- Eat well. With dinners, parties, and cookie trays at every turn, our eating habits are challenged during the holiday season. Try to maintain a healthy diet through it all.
- Get enough sleep. Symptoms of some mental health conditions can be triggered and exacerbated by getting too little sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. They don’t actually reduce stress: in fact, they often worsen it. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, educate yourself and get help.
Find support. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious this holiday season. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Take control of the holidays and don’t let them become something you dread. Take steps to prevent the stress and depression and learn to recognize your holiday triggers. With self-reflection, planning and positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.
Life Management Center is here for you if you suspect you or someone you love may be experiencing depression. We offer crisis intervention, psychiatric care with outstanding physicians, and counseling services. You don’t have to suffer alone. Call (850) 522-4485 today to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment.
This content provides information and discussion about mental health-related subjects. The content provided and any linked material is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Source: Mental Health America; The Mayo Clinic