By Stanley Aladi, BA and Mimi Hauber, BS | Behavioral Health Technician Leads
The holidays are supposed to be fun and joyful, right? Right! However, with the holiday season comes stress and, in some cases, even depression. Being realistic, planning ahead, and seeking support can help.
Shopping, wrapping. baking, decorating, and even attending holiday parties and events can leave you feeling overwhelmed during the holiday season. Remember, you don’t have to do it all. Pick a few things that are most important to you and your family. If you always decorate inside and outside, just choose one and alternate year after year. Families change and grow and so do traditions. Select a few to keep and incorporate new traditions, especially ones that aren’t a ton of work.
Sticking to a budget is also important during the holidays. Prior to shopping for gifts and groceries, decide what your budget is and don’t go over it. Money does not buy happiness.
Set realistic expectations for relationships too. Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean everyone suddenly gets along. Setting aside your differences is important. Accept your friends and family as they are even though you may not agree with some of their thoughts and behaviors.
Planning ahead can also be helpful in alleviating holiday stress. Set aside certain days to shop, wrap, bake, decorate, and connect with family and friends. Breaking up everything you have to do into manageable blocks of time will help reduce the anxiety that comes with last-minute scrambling.
Learn to say “no”. You’ll be appreciated a lot less if you are feeling resentful and overwhelmed because you put too much on your plate. If you feel you must help, add time for those projects into your agenda when planning ahead. Be sure to manage expectations by understanding what’s being asked of you and don’t take on additional tasks that weren’t on your original agenda.
Take Time for You
Self-care is important, especially during the holidays. Find something to help clear your mind such as breathing exercises, going for a walk, listening to music, or going for a drive. Spending 15-minutes alone with no distractions can help restore your “inner calm”.
Sometimes just having someone to talk to can ease the burden of a stressful situation. Call a trusted friend or family member and talk about anything! Get your mind off of what’s stressing you out or hit the topic head-on, you’ll know what works for you by how you feel after the conversation. Additionally, there are social media channels, support groups, and even online events that can provide a support system to help ease the tension.
While many people experience stress during the holiday season because there’s just too much to do, sometimes people feel anxious and depressed because they don’t have a packed agenda for the holidays. If you or someone you know feels isolated or lonely, reach out to your community. Get involved in social events through work, school, or even the church you attend. Dedicating some time to volunteering is another great way to fill your schedule and lift your spirit.
It’s important to know when symptoms are becoming unmanageable and you need to seek help. If you’re feeling sad, anxious, irritable, hopeless, or unable to sleep or do your daily tasks, it might be time to reach out to a professional. Mental health providers have tools to help you feel better by talking through and processing your feelings. There is nothing wrong with asking for help! Make sure that you are prioritizing your mental health because we all need time to recharge.
Learn more about NOAH’s counselors and how you can request an appointment here.