For some the Christmas season is often seen as The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. While the lyrics of this song can ring true for many people, the reality for several others is that the change in seasons often brings about more negative than positive feelings. Thesenegative feelings often result in a high amount of grief, sadness, fear, and also anxiety.
There are several factors that cause depressive symptoms to intensify during the holiday season. Here are a few:
- Less Active: There is less concern about physical health, less time outside, and less time exercising. This can be due to the colder weather and fewer hours of sunlight. The holiday planning usually causes things like relaxation, exercise, and healthy eating to go by the wayside.
- Tighter Finances: Money is tighter because of the effort to create the perfect holiday season for loved ones. There are added expenses for buying gifts, traveling, food, and entertainment.
- Physical Demands of Time: The extra shopping, party planning, and time spent with others can leave people feeling both physically and mentally drained. Exhaustion causes higher levels of stress and depression.
- Relationship Strain: The holidays can remind us of family and friends we have lost over the years and also family and friends we have been avoiding throughout the years. Tensions are usually heightened during the holidays and being together with family members for several days at a time can cause uneasiness if the relationships are broken.
With all these demands on our time and stressors, it can be difficult to remember what the purpose of the holiday season is all about. The season is about the amount of presence you give to others, not the amount of presents you give.
Here are 6 helpful tips for coping with stress and depression during the holiday season:
- Stick to a budget: Take time either alone or with your spouse to set aside a holiday budget, based on how much you can reasonably afford. Don’t try to buy other people’s happiness, especially your kids. Quality time together is the best gift to invest in.
- Learn how to create healthy boundaries with others: Budgeting your time is just as important as learning how to budget your money! Learning to say no to other people will help prevent you from feeling upset, regretful, and overwhelmed. Try to prioritize your time with the people who are most important to you. This may require removing something from your schedule. Don’t worry, most of your friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every activity. Finally, remember to set aside time for God, family, friends, and self.
- Accepting others: Do your best to accept family members and friends as they are and adjust your expectations if necessary. Try to set aside your differences during the holidays and devote future time to work on these negative relationship issues with family and friends. When in doubt, pray for God to give you the wisdom to know what to say and seek out counsel for how to interact with others.
- Plan ahead: Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your shopping, set aside certain days to devote to holiday planning.
- Don’t lose your routine: Take time to care for yourself. A healthy balance in a person’s life includes investing in your spiritual, physical, emotional, and social health.