The holiday season is a busy time for most. There is so much to do, attend and plan, which can bring up feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, and depressed. Conversely, this is also a time where people may feel acutely aware of the void left by the loss of a loved one, and their own personal loneliness.
Who is affected?
Holiday depression, anxiety and stress can affect anyone at any age. Sometimes, these feelings are triggered by a specific event or life experience. There are many things happening around the holidays that can act as triggers.
What can I do about this?
Holiday depression, stress, anxiety can be managed by following the tips listed above. Many people who experience depression, anxiety and stress during the holidays may think that they should just be able to ‘get over it’ on their own. Others may need time to recognize how deeply this affects their life. If your holiday depression, anxiety or stress seems severe or is interfering with your job or home life, talk to your doctor.
Many people’s benefit plans run January to December. It could be beneficial to check into your plan before the end of the year so you can use sessions before they expire.
How can I help a loved one?
Supporting a loved one who is experiencing holiday depression, anxiety or stress can be difficult. You may not understand why your loved one feels or acts a certain way. Some people who experience this feel like they have to do things a certain way or avoid things or situations, and this can create frustration or conflict with others. You may feel pressured to take part in these behaviours or adjust your own behaviours to protect or avoid upsetting a loved one. Support can be a delicate balance, but you should expect recovery—in time.
Here are some general tips:
- Ask your loved one how you can help them.
- Be patient—learning and practising new coping strategies takes time.
- If your loved one is learning new skills, offer to help them practice.
- Listen and offer support, but avoid pushing unwanted advice.
- Set boundaries and seek support for yourself, if needed.
Here are some of the most common holiday triggers and tips to prevent and/or lessen holiday depression, anxiety and stress. Remember, that you always have a choice and there are options available to you. We wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.
Practise mindful meditation
Mindful meditation is paying attention on purpose, without judgement, when we look at our thoughts and feelings.
At the start or end of the day, take a break and check in with yourself. We are on autopilot 24/7 from when we wake up. We are helping family, working, dealing with responsibilities, and we never really check in with ourselves. Our days impact us, and if we don’t check in with ourselves our stresses can blend into the next day, and then the next and suddenly we have compounded that stress. If we just take 10 or 20 minutes a day to slow down, ask ourselves how our day has impacted us and how we are feeling, we can mediate that pile up of stress.
It is okay to feel stressed, worried or angry, and if we allow ourselves the opportunity to explore why we are feeling these emotions with curiosity, and non-judgement, we can understand ourselves better.
It can be beneficial to create routine in your life. Routine can be the foundation of solid mental health. Routine can help you to cope better in times of stress, ensures that you get enough sleep, and can prevent additional problems from occurring.
By CMHA Alberta