The holidays are a time to enjoy family, friends, and good cheer, but as we go through this joyous season, many of us struggle with mental health challenges and stress due to a combination of social obligations, financial burdens, and other factors. From going to festive events we may have little interest in attending, to having to make room for extra family members or guests in our homes, the pressures of the holidays can weigh heavy on mental wellbeing.
Finding meaningful ways to manage these stressors, such as setting boundaries and taking mental health days off from shopping sprees or other errands, can help to reduce these pressures and make this season a bit more enjoyable.
Why Do The Holidays Make Me So Sad?
While the holidays typically represent a cheerful occasion to reconnect with family and friends, sometimes these events can trigger depression, anxiety, or grief. We miss and mourn those who are no longer with us. We fret if we can’t spend the money we want to on gifts. And, if we are alone during the season, we can feel disconnected from the cheer that’s going on around us.
If you find that the holidays are bringing up feelings of sadness or depression, it’s important to recognize these feelings and find support from mental health professionals or other people in your network. By reaching out and seeking help, these difficult times can become more manageable.
Is It OK To Not Spend Christmas With Family?
We all have that family member that gets under our skin. It’s understandable to dread seeing certain people during the holidays, but mental health is an important consideration in deciding if you want to see them or not. If spending time with your family brings up heightened levels of stress and increased mental strain, remember that you don’t have to feel obligated to attend these gatherings.
Sometimes there are other ways to connect without having to be physically present. Video chats or phone calls can provide tangible evidence that, even though the physicality of being together may not be possible, there is still the capacity for a deep connection. And having that distance from interaction can keep you bonded with family while offering mental relief.
5 Tips To Avoid Holiday Stress
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the holiday bustle, there are some things you can do to reduce your stress levels and enjoy the season more.
Here are some tips for reducing holiday stress.
1) Start Your Holiday Shopping Early To Avoid The Last Minute Rush
Shopping for the holidays can be an overwhelming and stressful experience, especially if you wait until the last minute.
While it may seem like avoiding the holiday rush is impossible, starting your shopping as early as possible can actually prevent stressed out feelings and pre-holiday anxiety. Gathering at least a few items per person in advance will help you beat the rush and stay on top of your gift-giving list. Get started on your shopping early to enjoy a peaceful holiday season.
2) Set A Budget For Gifts And Holiday Travel And Stick To It
Studying holiday spending patterns suggests that those who make and stick to a budget avoid overspending. Budgeting for gifts, travel, and other holiday expenses can also help to avoid debt and financial strain in the coming New Year.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, setting a budget also provides a sense of clarity and control that can help minimize the stress surrounding gift buying or planning to visit faraway loved ones during the season.
When crafting your holiday budget, it’s important to remember that it should be realistic and based on how much you can afford. Even if you don’t have enough funds for certain expenditures, setting a budget will give you the opportunity to create alternatives that will still bring you the joy of the holiday season without sacrificing your financial health.
3) Simplify Your Holiday Menu And Consider Having Guests Bring Potluck Items
When it comes to planning your holiday menu, the difficult task of trying to take individual food allergies and food lifestyles into consideration can be exhausting. And, trying to prepare everyone’s favorite dishes can quickly lead to stress and burnout. Instead of cooking an exhaustive selection of dishes for all of your guests, consider simplifying the menu and having each guest bring a potluck item to the holiday dinner instead.
This will help create a sense of community ownership over the spread and make meal preparation easier for you once it’s time to assemble the feast. Plus, each guest will likely hand-select an item that they are capable of making and are passionate about, so you can rest assured that everyone at the table will have something they love.
4) Delegate Tasks To Family Members And Friends To Lighten Your Load
Delegating tasks to family members and friends is an important method of lightening your load not only during the holidays, but in life. Taking on too much responsibility is a huge source of stress, so it’s important to pass some of that responsibility to others whom you trust. It’s not only about the extra help that comes with doing so, but it also creates a sense of community and togetherness among those who are willing to step in and lend a helping hand when needed.
Delegating tasks doesn’t have to be complex; simple things like grocery shopping, loading the dishwasher, or walking the dog can really add up and make a difference, especially if you have out-of-town guests staying with you.
Ultimately, giving yourself permission to ask for help when needed is a key part of managing your stress levels and staying healthy.
5) Take Some Time For Yourself
With holidays upon us, it is easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of running errands and attending holiday parties. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself this season! It can be as little as fifteen minutes of peace alone in a cozy corner or an hour dedicated to doing something you love.
Scheduling in relaxation time will allow you to be more present and engaged with those around you – and bring greater awareness of your thoughts and emotions, too. Taking time for yourself is an act of self-care that enriches all areas of your life; holidays included.
The Holidays Are About Spending Time With Loved Ones, Not About Material Things
During the holidays, it can often be too easy to get caught up in buying lavish gifts or hosting expensive holiday celebrations. Don’t forget that what’s truly important is spending quality time with loved ones. Showing affection, engaging in meaningful conversation, and just enjoying each other’s company can lead to moments of true connection and appreciation.
Remember, it doesn’t take much to bring joy into someone’s life–all that matters is the presence of those close to your heart. After all, the holidays are meant for making lasting memories with the ones you love; not for fleeting material pleasures.
We Can Help
The holidays are a busy time for everyone, but it’s important to take care of yourself and not get overwhelmed. If you start your holiday shopping early, set a budget, and simplify your menu, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the season. And remember – the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, not about getting the perfect gift. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, our licensed mental health professionals can help you manage your holiday stress and anxiety so that you can enjoy the season.
For more information, please contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 today.