For many people, the holidays are full of joy and happiness. But for others, this time of year creates tremendous stress. From trying to buy the perfect gifts for all your friends and family members to dealing with uncomfortable family gatherings, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious or depressed.
Take Steps Toward Happier Holidays
With the holiday season upon us, there are strategies you can use to successfully manage your thoughts and emotions around the holidays in a way that allows you to be more at peace or even enjoy the season. Thankfully, you don’t have to just “grin and bear it.” Here are some steps you can take to avoid anxiety and depression.
1. Make a plan
So often the holidays just sort of happen, and you feel like you’re at their mercy. Decide which aspects you are in control of and start making those plans as soon as you can. Anxiety and depression thrive when we feel like we are not in control. Taking charge of your holiday experience is a powerful antidote.
2. Abandon perfection
The perfect gifts, the perfect decorations, the perfect meal… they are ideals that nobody ever hits, yet we still strive for them. This year, let yourself off the hook. Tell yourself that you are going to focus on “good” instead of “perfect” this year. Good gifts, good decorations, and good meals are a much better recipe for less stress.
3. Take a new approach to family conflict
Neither arguing with family members nor avoiding them completely is a healthy strategy. Instead, engage with them but have a plan for how to deal with tense situations. For example, when someone makes a statement you feel is inflammatory, be ready with a neutral response like “I understand you feel strongly about that but let’s discuss it another time.” Then move on to a new topic if you can, or excuse yourself from the conversation.
4. Make your physical health a priority
When life gets busy around the holidays, we tend to ignore our body’s need for sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition. This year, commit to taking care of those things even if it means cutting back on certain other activities. Being rested, relaxed, and nourished will help you maintain a more positive outlook.
5. Learn to say “No”
If you’re like most people, you commit to more activities than you would like to around the holidays. And the result is that you feel stressed out and exhausted. Try prioritizing events based on what they mean to you and your loved ones, and then excuse yourself from some of the items further down the list. You’ll find you get a lot of support if you simply say, “I’m trying to simplify the holidays this year so I can enjoy them, and I’m cutting back on some of my activities.”
6. Reach out
When you feel yourself in the grip of anxiety or depression, there’s no reason you have to go it alone. Reach out to others for support. Whether that means a family member, a close friend, or a professional counselor, talking to others is a great way to release some of the pressure and to get assistance and guidance.
Approach the Season with Hope
If you’re tired of fearing the stress and depression you’ve felt around the holidays in the past, take action. The strategies above can help, and so can talking with a skilled, experienced, and compassionate counselor. Contact us at the Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at (303) 853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.