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.
In 1849 Henry David Thoreau published Civil Disobedience in which he penned the famous line: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Now, so many years later, many people wonder why they feel a sense of “quiet desperation.” They aren’t sure why, despite their lives filled with activity, they have a sense of melancholy. They don’t believe they could be experiencing anxiety or depression. After all, if they were anxious or depressed they wouldn’t be able to attend to all their commitments, show up for work, school, social activities, etc. Many have the idea that anxiety and depression means one can’t get out of bed, can’t get to work or school, and can’t have relationships with partners, family, or friends. The truth is people can be high-functioning AND anxious or depressed.
While many of the typical signs of depression and anxiety relate to impairment or reduction of functioning, some people with anxiety and depression are able to function and even over-function to avoid experiencing painful feelings. Individuals with high-functioning anxiety and depression are ones who often go above and beyond--they volunteer for every committee, they work extra hours to complete the project, they have trouble saying no, and they can be viewed as the one who can handle anything. Often, from the outside they appear to “have it all together.”
However, at the end of the day, no matter how much they have accomplished, how much they have filled every minute of the day, those with high-functioning anxiety and depression carry a sense of “quiet desperation.” They wonder what the point is as they drive between meetings. They lay down at night and wonder if they are the only ones who feel it’s all kind of pointless. They tell themselves “After I finish this next project, after I graduate, after I get the next promotion, I won’t feel this sense of foreboding each day when I get out of bed.” The reality is when the next goal is conquered, the depression or anxiety continues to stay with them. Often, this leads to questions of “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be satisfied? Why do others seem so impressed by my accomplishments, but I find little value in them?”
Of course, when most of the people around us are impressed by our accomplishments, it’s even more difficult to express those feelings of depression and anxiety. Continuously receiving positive feedback from others for having it all together makes it difficult to reach out and say, “I know it looks like I have it all together, but inside, I feel like a mess.” After all, who is going to believe that? The last time that truth was expressed it was met by the other person rattling off a laundry list of all the accomplishments you’ve had and why you shouldn’t feel that way. Anxiety and depression can be isolating. High-functioning anxiety and depression are especially lonely.
Do you think you may be experiencing high-functioning anxiety and/or depression? It’s crucial to recognize how you’re feeling and seek help. You may find that meeting with a therapist will help you take steps to a more fulfilling life. If you’re interested in talking more, please contact me to book a session.
Many people associate anxiety disorders with debilitating panic attacks, an inability to participate in social situations, and other symptoms such as tics or obsessive rituals. However, some people who struggle with anxiety don’t display the symptoms normally associated with anxiety, yet it continues to impact them on a daily basis. These individuals could easily be living with high-functioning anxiety. And though it may not keep them housebound or cause them to completely withdraw from life, it can still have a huge impact. Here are five signs you may have high-functioning anxiety:
1. You Lose a Lot of Sleep
Those with high-functioning anxiety often have a tough time shutting their brain off at night. They keep trying to solve the world’s problems or continue to plan for the following day long after they should be shutting down and relaxing. If you have frequent insomnia and struggle with fatigue during the day, it could be due to anxiety.
2. You’ve Been Called An Overachiever
Many people with high-functioning anxiety don’t realize they have a problem because they’ve been praised in the past for how much they accomplish. Perfectionism is a hallmark trait of those with anxiety and it can lead to some pretty impressive output. However, it can also mean crippling fear of failure or what others think—and is a sign of anxiety.
3. You Have a Fear of Not Staying Busy
Most people with high-functioning anxiety can’t stand downtime. Whether its due to the fear of not getting enough done or the overwhelming worries that crop up when their minds and bodies aren’t busy, high-functioning anxiety sufferers often find ways to cram their days full of activity.
4. You Often Feel Sad for No Reason
Many people don’t realize that anxiety and depression are two sides to the same coin. The two conditions play into each other and those who have high-functioning anxiety are more prone to high-functioning depression as well. Not taking enough time for yourself, overscheduling, and fear of what others think can easily lead to feeling sad and unsure of your place in the world.
5. You’re Afraid You’re Not Enough
Individuals with high-functioning anxiety often over-commit and put others before themselves because they secretly think they’re not enough. They convince themselves that if they can just do more for other people, they will earn approval. Unfortunately, the only approval they really need comes from within—and those with anxiety have a difficult time of finding self-acceptance and love.
Do you have high-functioning anxiety or depression? Just because you can still tend to daily events and live a relatively full life, you might still benefit by talking with a therapist. If you’d like to book a session, please reach out.
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.