Studies show that 60% of people haven’t gotten to spend the holiday with family and friends since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. While many find the holidays to be a season full of hope and well wishes, for others, the holidays may mean something entirely different.
For some people, the holidays can trigger a time of stress, anxiety, or even depression that significantly strain a person’s mental health. In this article we will address how the holiday season can cause anxiety and provide some tips that will help you make it through the season.
Mental Illness and the Holidays
There are several reasons that the holiday season can create issues with your mental health, with the first being stress. We often think of Thanksgiving and Christmas as a joyful time to be spent around family and friends, not everyone feels the holiday spirit.
Not everyone has had a pleasurable experience during the holidays, which means that when the time comes, they want to avoid it at all costs. When people find that something can trigger thoughts or emotions that are associated with negative situations, and it’s unavoidable, it can be overwhelming to deal with.
For people with mental health conditions, the holidays can be an especially triggering time. Holiday stress can play a large role in the negative feelings that some people get surrounding this time. When stress levels are high, it can disrupt sleep patterns and self care practices.
It is normal to feel anxious around the holidays because there is a lot to do and the pressure can add up fast. From family gatherings to gift giving, there is a lot to plan ahead for. Many people hold unrealistic expectations for the holidays, and can feel disappointed when it doesn’t always go as planned.
Other reasons people become depressed or stressed during the holiday season include the following:
- Family members have unrealistic expectations
- Financial stress
- Not being able to be with family and friends
Sometimes it’s one or a combination of these things that cause depression. Here are some ways to cope with the holiday season as it approaches.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Another contributing factor to holiday depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal Affective Disorder is an extremely common mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year.
SAD is most common during the winter season, when the days are shorter and the temperatures are lower. For most people with SAD, symptoms will start in the fall and progress into the winter. SAD can deplete your energy leave you feeling depressed. The symptoms of SAD often resolve during the warmer months of Spring and Summer.
Manage Symptoms Early
If you understand the holidays are a sore spot for you, the following way to deal with the holiday blues is to address your symptoms before they become overwhelming. The first thing you should do is be mindful of your symptoms and spot them in their early stages.
By noticing your symptoms in the early stages, you can make a note of the factors that trigger them and mitigate them as you move forward with the holiday season. For example, is the financial stress of the holiday a trigger for your depression? If so, the best way to deal with this is to create a budget you’re going to follow for the holidays. From there, you can ensure you make the most of early sales so that you can reduce the chances of having to be involved in last-minute sales, which would mean dealing with a host of others that are shopping at the last minute too.
Does spending time with a certain family member leave you feeling anxious? It may be time to set some boundaries. If the thought of a certain holiday gathering causes you to feel overwhelmed, it is okay to go for a short period of time, or even skip it if you must.
It is also important to set realistic expectations during the holiday season. Try to exercise regularly and maintain your normal routine.
Keep Things Simple
If you feel overwhelmed planning for the holidays, just keep things simple. Don’t take on all the tasks. Instead, delegate tasks to loved ones and others that will be attending the event.
For example, host a potluck-type of holiday dinner instead of cooking everything yourself. This makes everyone responsible for something, and you only have to play host for the evening.
This takes stress off your shoulders and means you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen or prepping the day before. It also helps to rope others into your plans early. Ask your support system for help when you need it.
TMS therapy stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. TMS therapy is an FDA approved treatment option that has been clinically proven effective when the traditional forms of depression treatment have not worked. TMS therapy works by stimulating the prefrontal cortex which is the section of the brain that is responsible for for mood regulation.
How to Cope With Holiday Depression
If you are experiencing anxiety and depression, seek professional help. When it comes to the holiday season, depression can make things less than ideal. Remever, you are not alone and help is available. Request an appointment from Oasis TMS and get ready to take back your holiday joy!