When thinking about the holidays, most imagine happy and joyful times with their loved ones. The truth is that many struggle with holiday depression and anxiety. With the holidays comes many stressors that you may have worked to avoid throughout the year. This year may bring on extra stressors we don’t typically experience with the spread of Covid-19 still among your community.
What causes holiday depression?
During the holidays, we seem to go into overdrive, and many begin to neglect their self-care. There are many unreasonable expectations around gift-giving, cleaning, cooking, baking, attending and/or hosting holiday parties, having family in town, and just the expectation of being happy all the time when the holidays hit.
On the other hand, people who don’t feel like they have a close circle of friends and family may feel lonelier around the holidays. It is easy to isolate yourself when you are feeling lonely, which will only make you sink further into your depression. With the pandemic still active, you will find it is easier to isolate yourself more than normal.
Many people can cope with these things individually well, but when you group them all together in an extended period of time, it becomes much hard to process everything going on around you. On top of the normal stressors, we will have Covid-19 added in. You may find yourself also worried about the health of your family members and how it will affect your holiday traditions.
Tips to Cope With Holiday Depression
Luckily there are a few tips to keeping your mental health in the green this holiday season.
- Plan ahead & be realistic. Don’t make too many plans for yourself, don’t add too many people to your gift-giving list, and make sure you plan to fit in your self-care needs.
- Stick to a budget. Once you have your list of who you would like to give a gift to, how much can you spend on each one? Once you write out your budget, make sure you stick to it. Can you get a little creative this year? For many, being creative can help cope with depression and anxiety. If you can combine creativity with gift-giving it could help relieve a little stress!
- Acknowledge how you actually feel. Go into these holidays knowing that you struggle with depression and anxiety around this time of the year. Don’t be afraid to accept those feelings.
- If you are one who feels lonely around the holidays, reach out. Don’t be afraid to make new friends, and look for a community that makes you feel accepted.
- Evaluate your expectations of others. Sometimes you set the ones you love up for failure by setting your own expectations too high. Remember that others may also be experiencing holiday depression and anxiety, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Saying no is okay. You don’t have to say yes to everyone and everything during the holidays. If you are worried about the spread of Covid-19, be honest when someone invites you to their holiday party or asks you for a favor.
- Continue your self-care routine. Make sure you are giving yourself some time alone, drinking enough water, and not just living off holiday cookies. Taking a walk through the park is a nice way to get some alone time and stay active.
When to get help:
At the end of the day, all these tips may not be enough. It is important to recognize when it is time to ask for help. Many hesitate to ask for help around the holidays “because it’s just temporary. After the new year, I’ll start feeling better, and things can get back to normal, right?” By avoiding how you actually feel, you are only setting yourself up to go into the new year with depression and anxiety already getting you down.
For more information on how to keep your holiday season healthy, check out some of my other blogs here!