For a lot of us, the holidays are a magical, fun time. But for many of us, they’re also a source of stress and depression. Whether Christmas is the source of anxiety due to family issues, loneliness, dreading returning to work or anything else, we have to acknowledge that this magical time of the year has a downside for a lot of people.
So with that in mind, we want you to take a deep breath, count to five, and try some of these tips.
1. Acknowledge your own feelings
It sounds silly, but a lot of the time we try to conceal what we’re really feeling. Buzz for the holiday cheer can make you feel like you’re being ungrateful for being down, anxious, stressed, or depressed. But don’t. These feelings are normal, and more should be done to acknowledge that mental health issues are common and not frowned upon.
Talk to someone, your best friend, your sister, someone you trust. If you have nobody to talk to about it, make an appointment to see the doctor and explain how you feel. There is absolutely no shame in talking about it!
2. Don’t be a perfectionist
This time of the year, perfection is at an all-time high. You need to have a perfect tree, a perfect time with your family, perfect gifts and a perfect Christmas meal. Well, that’s not achievable at all. Ask anyone you know about their most disastrous holiday season and they’ll tell you a few tales. Be realistic, what can you actually achieve?
Don’t expect to wake up Martha Stewart just because it’s the first Christmas you’re having at your place. Equally, try to be harmonious if you’re back with your family. Conflict will inevitably arise – it’s the same for every family, just take a breath, smile, and remove yourself from the situation.
3. Plan ahead
“Spend some time figuring out how to take care of yourself during this time,” says John Sharp, MD, a psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
Even if you’re just planning the hour or so before people arrive, make sure to include restorative routines. Things that will get you back on track like reading, painting, regular night walks, exercises and chilling out watching movies. This is how you avoid emotional crashes and stress. “Figure out what basics are going to help you get through the holidays and make them a priority,” he added.
4. Make little moments for yourself
Many psychologists suggest taking to the outdoors, volunteering, taking a moment to watch your Christmas lights and creating gratitude lists. If you really feel like the holiday season is getting on top of you, try contacting the Mind charity (UK) or check out the resources on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and remember – there is nothing wrong with calling a hotline or asking for expert advice if you can’t shake the feelings!
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