Ten Tips to Prevent Holiday Stress and Depression

With the frenzied pace of the holiday season (activities, guests, shopping, parties, baking, etc.) it’s no wonder that stress and depression can seem an inevitable part of the festivities. However, with a little planning, there may be a way for you to enjoy your holiday time a little bit more! Mayo Clinic and Health.com offer the following tips:

1. Plan ahead. If you haven’t already done so, make a calendar and schedule days for shopping, baking, cleaning, etc. Make sure to schedule time for activities you enjoy. Think about what energizes you; is it a walk, a nap, curling up by the fire reading a good book? Schedule these on your calendar as you would any other appointment. Mealtimes can also be stressful times. Plan your menus and create your shopping list ahead of time. You’ll have all of the ingredients you need on hand when your family gets hungry!

2. Build a budget. Money is often one of the biggest stressors during the holidays. Realistically look at how much money you can spend before purchasing gifts or planning parties and gatherings.

3. Pay attention to what you are feeling. If you find yourself missing loved ones during the holiday season, take time to express your feelings.  You can talk to a friend or reach out to support group.  If someone close to you has recently passed away, realize that the sadness you feel is part of the healing process and allow yourself time to grieve. 

4. Join. If you are experiencing feelings of loneliness or isolation, seek out the company of others. There are many opportunities, including religious or social meet-up groups that often host special events during the holidays. Volunteering your time to help others is also a good way to lift your spirits and develop friendships.

5. Just say no. If you have a tendency to say “yes” to every invitation or request for help – you may end up feeling both overwhelmed and resentful this holiday season.  Agreeing to participate in every fundraiser or attend every social event will only lead to potential burnout. Pick a few things that bring you joy and say “no” to the rest. 

6. Realize that nobody is perfect. Seeking perfection can be overwhelming. Reflect on your holiday traditions and determine which ones you and your family truly enjoy. Let go of the rest; and be on the lookout for new traditions that might be even better! As children get older, the opportunities for volunteering increase – perhaps you and your family will find a new holiday tradition that will help you celebrate the season together.

7. Have a plan for family gatherings.  With the blessings of family comes a certain amount of stress at family gatherings. Come up with an action plan before you head over to Uncle Jim’s. Perhaps a code word that your spouse or another relative knows that means “help me”. Remember, it’s always okay to remove yourself from a stressful situation and take a breather. Go outside and get some fresh air or join the kids in a game of touch football.

8. Include healthy habits.  Eat plenty of healthy snacks throughout the day to prevent overeating at holiday gatherings. Also, make sure to get an adequate amount of sleep.  And finally, don’t forget to exercise. Take a walk around the block with a family member for some fresh air and conversation. Or practice yoga in the morning to begin your day with calm.

9. Take a break. Even 5-10 minutes alone can make a difference! Go for a walk, lie down and listen to some music, take a bubble bath. Whatever calms your mind and brings you inner peace – make time for it.

10. Seek professional help. If you find yourself unable to shake the blues, feeling lower than usual, unable to sleep, or feeling hopeless, it’s time to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Don’t put it off for another day! They are trained to look for signs of depression and anxiety and may have suggestions to help you greet each new day with renewed hope!