Holiday Depression & Stress

Coping With Stress   |  Holiday Bill of Rights  |  Links & Resources 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Although the holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy, good cheer and optimistic hopes for a new year, many people struggle during the holiday season when expectations are high and disrupted routines can feel overwhelming. However, some mental preparations and planning can help everyone cope with the season -- and even enjoy it.

Self-care. Pay special attention to your eating, sleeping, and downtime. It might be OK to skimp on a few hours of sleep just before a relaxing weekend, but think again if that weekend will include the stress of traveling, visiting or other activities out of your normal routine. Don’t forget to factor in downtime, too. Planning every hour of your time off can seem like a great idea, until you realize there is no time left to unwind.

Fun, not perfection. Resist the urge to do everything you can to make the season perfect for everyone. Just have as much fun as you can and don’t expect it to be perfect.

Anticipate stress. Plan ahead of time what your strategy will be when times get stressful. Is it possible to take a walk outside for 15 minutes when a family gathering gets stressful? How about a trip to your favorite store if your schedule gets you down?

Coping with Stress During the Holidays

  • Keep expectations manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.

  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don't put the entire focus on just one day (i.e. Thanksgiving Day). Remeber that it's a season of holiday sentiment, and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.

  • Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.

  • Leave "yesteryear" in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don't set yourself up in comparing today with the "good ol' days."

  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some your time to help others.

  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping or making a snowman with children.

  • Be aware of excessive drinking. It will only increase your feelings of stress.

  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.

  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends, or connect with someone you haven't heard from in while.
     
  • Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities.

Holiday Bill of Rights

You have the right to...

  • Take care of yourself.
  • Feel mixed up emotions around the holidays.
  • Spend time alone thinking, reflecting and relaxing.
  • Say "no" to party invitations.
  • Ask for help and support from family, friends and community service agencies
  • Say "no" to alcohol, drugs...and seconds on dessert.
  • NOT to ride with a drunk driver, to take their keys away and to call a taxi for them.
  • Give gifts that are within your holiday budget.
  • Smile at angry sales people and/or rude drivers and give them a peace of your mind.
  • Enjoy your holiday the way you want.
Source: Mental Health America; Oneida Health Promotions: Holiday Survival Kit

Links and Resources

Stress, Depression, and the Holidays: 12 Tips for Coping (Mayo Clinic)

Making the Most of the Holiday Season ( APA Help Center)

Holiday Depression, Anxiety and Stress (Medicine Net.com)

Holiday Depression & Stress

Seasonal Affective Disorder