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How To Deal With Holiday Stress & Depression

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

It’s that time of year again.

You know, the time of year where everyone is supposed to happy, jolly and lively.

But for some reason, I don’t have those feelings. I feel stress and anxious because I know that I won’t be able to keep up. I never do.

Who should I buy gifts for? Do I have enough money? Will my boss let me work overtime? Will I get invited to any parties this year? I need to start decorating the house. Ugh…I need to buy that Christmas tree.

During the holidays, we all have personal demands and it feels like we don’t have time to do all that we need to do. With the parties, shopping, cleaning, entertaining, and trying to find the perfect gift…the holidays can be a drain.

If only it was easy as “roasting chestnuts on an open fire”.

Holiday Stress

Despite the commercial holiday and festivities being this happy, and joyful event. Let’s be honest, the holidays aren’t entirely stress-free.

At the end of every year, I’m talking about the months of October through December, the number of get-togethers and tasks increases. Becoming increasingly overwhelming because our to-do lists are getting longer.

But as they say, “too much to do, in so little time”.

Ain’t that the truth!

Holiday Expectations

  1. Spend time with family and friends

  2. Attend holiday parties

  3. Eat and drink A LOT

  4. Buy presents.

  5. Be happy

Holiday Realities

No one invited me this year…I don’t know which holiday party to go to. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings…I don’t have a family…I don’t have friends…I don’t know what to do by myself during the holiday…

They cut my hours at work…I don’t have enough money to buy anyone a nice gift…I can’t pay rent this month…I lost my job…my car broke down and I don’t have enough to get it fixed.

I miss my family…I wish my family was around…because I don’t have anybody

Fundamentally, the holidays are about spending time with family and friends. But what if you don’t have either?

Just a few things to think about…and maybe you can relate.

Holiday Depression

The holidays can get demanding but it becomes much more intense for someone dealing with depression. (See my blog post "What Is Depression? And Do I Have It?")

“When one of the expectations of the holidays is to be “happy”, there is a 100% chance of failure for the person with depression.”

At a time when people are connecting the most, a person suffering from depression feels even more disconnected. Thus, increasing their level of depression.

Holiday Pressures

Just because “Santa Clause is coming to town” doesn’t mean that we should be faking a smile for the sake of the holidays.

Rather, be honest to yourself and recognize how you feel. You shouldn’t have to feel shameful.

Feeling down on Christmas Day? I know I sometimes do!

What you can do about it is to acknowledge your true feelings, think about why you feel that way, and what you can do to better manage those feelings.

How To Manage Holiday Stress & Depression

  1. Be prepared — Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. This way you eliminate any kind of surprises. Maybe this time around you don’t have enough money to buy gifts for people. That’s okay! Think of alternatives such as making handmade gifts for people. That way you skip the holiday crowds (#stressful) and while everyone else is fighting for parking (#morestress) you are at home enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate while creating awesome Christmas gifts for your friends and family. I’m just saying…I think homemade gifts are the best anyway. (#winning)

  2. Get enough sleep — Not getting enough sleep is bad for your health general. But not getting enough sleep and added holiday stress can only be a disaster. Get your recommended 7–8 hours every day because you are going to need it.

  3. Maintain a healthy diet — When I think of the holidays I think of gaining 10 pounds in the shortest amount of time possible. A lot of food and a lot of drinking. Enjoy it but don’t go overboard (like I often do). Moderation is key…this allows you to enjoy the festivities without feeling guilty afterward. I know we can get carried away (When We Eat What We Feel: How We Let Our Emotions Consume Us")

  4. Exercise — Exercising not only gives you an energy boost but it also makes you feel good. And after eating a little bit too much, exercise can help you burn those calories.

  5. Don’t try to be perfect — Nobody is perfect and when you try to be you are just setting yourself up for failure. Do what you can do and be realistic about what you can do with the amount of time that you have. No more, no less. Just remember the saying, “Less is More”.

  6. Know your limits — Don’t feel obligated to go to all 10 Christmas parties within 4 hours. However, if you can do that then I’m impressed. But if you can’t, learning to say “No” will be in your favor. Don't forget about taking care of yourself first.

In conclusion...

Maybe it’s hard to realize that the most “wonderful time of the year” can actually be the most stressful time of the year.

But with the proper mindset, you too can overcome the holiday stress.

As a friend would always tell me, “Take it easy…” and he’s right!

…because the last thing I need is “Jack Frost nipping at my nose”

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