As wonderful as the holidays can be, they are also frequently a source of stress for families. People get depressed around the holidays for many reasons. It could be they lost a loved one and miss them at gatherings, things are tense with family members, past trauma and pain haven’t been resolved, or any combination of money and planning have been a constant stressor. Whatever the reason, how you react to the pain and anxiety can set a precedent for future gatherings, and you don’t want to be miserable at every holiday gathering for the rest of the season.
5 Tips to Cope With Holiday Blues
Regardless of the reason, the first step in forming a healthier relationship with the holidays involves figuring out the emotion you’re feeling and the cause. Stress and depression can feel very similar if they are equally debilitating, but the proper solutions may vary between them. Once you’ve figured out what’s causing your emotional distress, then try these coping tips:
#1. Communicate with family members about your feelings and needs.
Hopefully, your immediate family or other loved ones are in the know about what goes on in your head during the holidays. Don’t expect them to be mindreaders. Tell them how you’re feeling and tell them what you need to make it better. Try saying something like, “I’m feeling anxious about…. Could you help me by…?”
#2. Stick to common ground.
If conflict is a recurring issue at holiday gatherings, then set up some boundaries. If some topics and language are out of bounds, then communicate that ahead of time. Stick with the things that bond you together, avoiding the things that tear you apart.
#3. Don’t overspend.
Money fears and problems are a major complaint of the holidays. Feeding, housing, and giving gifts to so many people can take a major toll on the wallet. Communicate your budget restrictions to those who need to know, but don’t feel like you need to apologize if you can’t get everyone a gift. Take care of yourself and your family’s needs first and foremost.
#4. Have an escape route.
You’re allowed to duck and run for a moment if things get stressful. Take a moment to yourself whenever you feel like you need it, and let people know when you need to have some time to yourself. That’s a boundary that loved ones should always respect.
#5. Share responsibilities and allocate tasks.
You don’t have to take care of everything yourself, and neither does anyone else in your family. Simply offering help or asking for help can reduce the tension in a room by admitting care or vulnerability. Don’t let anyone take the brunt of the responsibility for holiday planning.
The holiday season is a source of stress and sadness for many. For you, it could be unresolved trauma that’s feeding your anxiety and depression around the holiday season. Whatever the cause, you don’t have to live that way. At Alta Loma, we can help you get to the bottom of your pain and anxieties and teach you the skills to cope with them in a healthy way. To learn about our program and to start your journey toward positive mental health, call Alta Loma at (866) 457-3843 today.