Do you get anxious or depressed during the holidays? While many people enjoy the thought of shopping for the perfect gift, attending holiday parties, and spending quality time with family and friends, there are some who dread the holiday months. Something about the added pressure and the reduced daylight (and possibly the thought of spending another holiday alone) can really do a number on those who already fight anxiety and depression. If you find you would rather crawl under the covers and hide than attend one more holiday happy hour, you’re not alone. It’s vital that you take good care of yourself during this stressful season so you can get through to the new year. Here are 7 ideas:
1. Say No
There is no law saying you need to participate in every single holiday tradition or attend every holiday get-together. Pick and choose the things you find most enjoyable and say no to the rest. While some people may throw out the ‘Scrooge’ word, those who are close to you will understand.
2. Do Shopping Online
Even Christmas-lovers often find shopping to be a less than fun experience—especially if they are braving the malls during the month of December. While you probably can’t opt out of gift-giving completely, you can avoid the madhouses of stores and do most of your shopping from the comfort of your own home.
3. Take a Vacation
Do you have to stay in town for the holidays? Unless you have family get-togethers you need to attend, there is nothing to say you can’t take a fun road trip or go somewhere else not holiday-related during the month of December. Sometimes just the change of scenery can do wonders for your mood.
4. Get Enough Rest
Day after day of after-work parties, wrapping presents, baking cookies…it can all get exhausting. During this time of year, it’s vital that you get enough rest—especially if you already have a tough time dealing with the season. Make a point to get sufficient sleep every night and don’t be afraid to leave a few parties early to do so.
5. Indulge in Favorites
While everyone else is watching their 20th Lifetime Christmas movie, you can be tuning into your favorite (non-holiday) movie or television series. Many people feel pressured to partake in everything the holiday has to offer including music, movies, TV, and events—and it can be overwhelming. Make sure you sprinkle in some regular favorites so you don’t lose track of what really makes you happy.
6. Hang Out with Those You Are Close To
It’s likely you have a couple close friends and family members who understand your aversion to the holidays. Why not spend more time with them rather than the scores of acquaintances who look at you funny when you tell them Christmas isn’t really your thing? When you spend time with those who love you, you’ll feel supported and cared for instead of judged.
7. Share Your Feelings
Are you afraid to tell anyone your true thoughts about the holidays? When you push down feelings, they don’t go away. They either get worse or they burst out when you least expect it (like when Aunt Frannie asks if you have a new boyfriend to bring to her Christmas Eve party this year). If you can’t share how you really feel with friends or family, you should consider talking to a counselor or a therapist who can help you work through it.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for all of us. It’s okay if the holidays aren’t your favorite season and it’s understandable they could add to your feelings of depression or anxiety. Try the above seven tips to take care of yourself this year and if you’d like to talk, please reach out so we can book a therapy session.
Jessica is a mental health therapist who specializes in helping women free themselves from anxiety, depression, and other stress-related conditions. She is honored to witness the experiences of her clients and work with them toward meaningful lives.