While the holiday season is meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, it also brings its own fair share of depression and stress for many. In fact, according to a Healthline survey, up to 62% of people described their stress levels as elevated during the holidays.
Stress and depression can not only ruin your holidays but they can also hurt your health. It’s important to be realistic, plan ahead, and seek support to ward off these overwhelming feelings before they overwhelm you.
How can I fight back against holiday stress and depression?
It’s hard to stop and regroup when holiday stress is at its peak. If the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past, it’s a good idea to consider coping strategies for this season.
Here are a few ways you can keep both your mental and physical health in check during the holiday season:
- Check in with your PCP. If you don’t have a primary care physician, it’s a good idea to find one. There are approximately 472,560 PCPs in the United States. A primary care physician isn’t just a doctor who can help with health transitions like when you need mammography screenings every two years after age 65. Your primary care physician is a familiar home base that is aware of your health history. They can monitor your health changes over time and give recommendations to improve your health over the holiday season if it’s a stressful time for you.
- Check in with your therapist. Talk to a mental health professional if you know that the holidays are going to take a toll on your mental health. Your therapist may be able to give you coping tips for managing your stress or anxiety. If you have a psychiatrist, they might recommend a temporary higher dose of medication to make your anxiety or depression more manageable. You might be prompted to take a mini vacation to relieve stress and improve productivty. Professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8%.
- Ask for help when you need it. One of the biggest causes of stress during the holidays is the belief that you need to do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it whether it’s wrapping presents, holiday shopping, watching the kids, or cleaning the house.
- Have someone be a moderator. If you’ve recently gone through a divorce, you’re not alone. Between 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce, and both parents agree in 51% of custody decisions that the mother should become the custodial parent. If you don’t get along with your ex, consider having someone step in to be the moderator between the two of you. This way your kids can spend the holidays with both of their parents and you don’t have to worry about trying to keep things cool with your ex.
- Don’t feel pressured to attend events. If you know that going to an event will only make you feel worse, don’t feel pressured to go. When you say yes to something you should say no to, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Colleagues, friends, and family will understand if you can’t participate in every activity, project, or event.
The holiday season can take a toll on you mentally and physically. There’s no shame in taking a moment for yourself or investing in activities that make you feel more confident. Something as small as wearing makeup can make 82% of women feel more confident. Conversley, simply gifting a small boquet of flowers to someone close to you can make you feel great. In fact, 88% of survey respondents say a gift of flowers changes their mood for the better. For others, visiting the library or hitting their local museum can serve as excellent grounding activities. By staying realistic with your expectations, you can reduce your holiday stress and find a way to enjoy the season in a way that works for you and your family.