The holidays are a tough time for people struggling with depression or anxiety. Coping skills can be extremely beneficial for people that are having a “blue Christmas.” Here are ten tips from our psychologists to help patients cope with the pressures the holidays can bring:
- Allow yourself to feel, even if it isn’t holiday cheer. It’s common to feel grief and sadness around the holidays for many reasons. You don’t have to hide your feelings or stuff them away. Recognize how you feel and allow yourself to express them.
- Be realistic. Holidays are not perfect for anyone. If part of your feelings are based on thinking that everyone else is having a blissful holiday and you aren’t, having a more realistic perspective can help ease these feelings that you don’t measure up.
- Recognize your triggers. If you know certain events or exchanges make your symptoms worse, skip them. Everyone involved will understand and support your choices, especially when they care about your well-being. If others are not respectful of your limits and boundaries, consider limiting time with them.
- Focus on healthy habits. This concept can be tough when your feelings make you want to do anything but make healthy choices. However, getting plenty of sleep, eating plenty of healthy foods, and getting regular exercise (even just a walk around the neighborhood) can help you have a healthy platform to cope with your feelings. Spending time with others who are supportive and have a healthy outlook is critical to your well-being but is especially important this time of year.
- Give of yourself. There are a number of ways that you can volunteer your time at the holidays. Take advantage of them and it might help you get outside your feelings and be a breath of fresh air for your holidays. Giving to others can lead to positive feelings in yourself such as feeling connected to others and feeling gratitude and increased sense of competence and self-worth.
- Plan ahead. If you can schedule events you enjoy every couple of days, you can use those points as a new focus for positive feelings. But don’t overschedule! Be sure to schedule time for daily or weekly essentials (like grocery shopping or laundry) as well as time to unwind and rest.
- Break out of tradition. Perhaps this year is the year to try something different. If you break some of the patterns surrounding the holidays, it might provide a different perspective that is helpful to your feelings.
- Let it go. This sentiment is more than an overplayed song. Letting go of the little stuff is important when you are working on the bigger picture.
- Worry only about what you can change. You can’t control everything. You can only control how you react to everything. Keep this in mind when you start to feel overwhelmed by a situation or others’ behavior.
- Ask for help. Everyone needs help from time to time. Reach out to someone you trust and ask for their support. It’s a good idea to be specific as most people want to help you but don’t always know how. You’ll find that most people are willing to lend a hand if they know what you need.
Web MD has a great list of tips for coping with the holidays. To read their entire list, please click here.
The Mayo Clinic has excellent suggestions also. To read their list, please click here.
Health.com has more tips on their site. To read their tips, please click here.
The holiday blues are common—and probably more common than you think. By using any of these coping skills from our psychotherapists, or any of the additional links you see here you have excellent tools to help you cope with feelings of stress, depression and anxiety that can manifest at this time of year.