Holiday stress and depression can spoil your holidays and be harmful to your health. However, you don't have to become a victim to these emotional setbacks. Preventing holiday stress and depression should be first and foremost, especially if you have a history of stressful and depressing holidays.
It's important to be realistic. Don't expect the holidays to be perfect. Rituals and traditions often change as families mature and adjust to their new lifestyles. You may want to consider being open to new traditions while holding on to some of the old ones. For instance, if your family can't make it to your house to celebrate the holidays, find new ways to commemorate the festive season, like sharing videos, pictures, or exchanging e-mails.
Setting aside differences and accepting family members as they are can also help in reducing holiday stress and depression. Try to be understanding if others get distressed or upset. Set aside grievances until you find a more suitable time for discussion.
Planning ahead is a recommended strategy for reducing holiday stress. For example, set specific days for visiting friends, baking, and shopping. Plan your meals first, and then go shopping. This will help prevent last-minute running around to buy ingredients that may have been forgotten.
Reach out to someone if you're feeling overwhelmed by holiday stress, depression, anxiety, or isolation. Local communities and religious organizations can offer companionship and support. Volunteering your time to help others is a great way to broaden your friendships and reduce holiday stress and depression.
Healthy habits can also help in reducing holiday stress. Overindulgence adds to guilt and stress, so consider getting plenty of sleep, stay physically active, and have healthy snacks before going to holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on drinks, cheese, and sweets.
Don't be afraid to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling overwhelmed, resentful, and adds to holiday stress. People will understand if you can't attend every activity or project.
Take steps to prevent holiday stress and depression by recognizing holiday triggers, like personal demands and financial pressures. You can minimize holiday stress by sticking to a budget, as well. Decide how much money you're going to spend before going shopping for food and gifts. Stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness by purchasing an avalanche of gifts.
Remember it's normal to feel grief and sadness if you can't be with your loved ones, or if someone close to you has recently died. It's perfectly all right to take time out to express your feelings or cry. Just because it's the holiday season, you don't have to force yourself to be happy.
Holiday stress may be seasonal -- however, depression can be year-round. If your holiday stress, anxiety, or depression seems severe or is interfering with your home life or occupation, talk to a counselor or your doctor.
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