How to Keep Depression and Stress at Bay During the Holidays

While the holiday season is most people’s favorite time, at times, it also brings with it unwelcome guests—depression and stress.

This is not exactly surprising as the holidays come with a dizzying array of demands—shopping, cleaning and entertaining, baking, cooking meals, to name a few.

Understandably, the COVID-19 pandemic can also add some stress to this time of the year.

Fortunately, with a few practical tips, you can easily minimise any of the stress that accompanies the festive season.

Practical and Easy Ways to Keep Stress and Depression at Bay This Holiday Season

If you allow stress to reach its peak, it can become difficult to stop and regroup. Keep depression and stress at bay by managing stressful situations before they escalate. During the holidays, keep the following practical tips in mind:

Acknowledge your feelings.

If you can’t spend the holidays with your friends or loved ones because of one reason or another, realise and accept that feeling down is normal. It is normal to feel sad. Give yourself permission to feel down, express your feelings, and even cry. Don’t force yourself to feel okay right away. Just make sure you don’t dwell on the sadness.

Reach out.

If you feel isolated or lonely, seek out the company of friends or loved ones. You can also join religious or social communities or virtual events. They just might offer the support, solace, and companionship you are looking for.

If you are feeling extra stressed during the holiday season, it would help if you talk to a loved one or family member about anything that’s bothering you. The good thing is you have the option to reach out through a call, video chat, or text.

Doing something for others or volunteering your time is another way you can make new friends and lift your spirits. If you want to deepen and nurture some friendships, consider dropping some meals and dessert at a friend’s home during the holidays.

Be realistic.

The holidays don’t have to be the same each year. You have to remember that as families change and grow, rituals and traditions can change as well. Be open to making new ones while holding to some favourites. 

For instance, if your adult children, friends, or relatives can join you during the holidays like they used to, find new ways to celebrate. Nowadays, you have the option to share videos, emails, or pictures.

You can also get together with friends and loved ones through a Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime call. If anything, it is reassuring to know that while not all your holiday plans will go according to your plan, there is no shortage of alternatives available at your disposal.

Set aside any differences.

Decide to accept friends and family members exactly as they are, even if you don’t agree with everything they do or believe in. It would also do everyone a world of good if you set aside any grievances and choose to discuss it after the holidays.

Also, choose to be extra understanding if others get distressed or upset when something goes awry. Chances are they might also be dealing with some depression or stress related to the holidays as well.

Stick to your chosen budget.

Before doing any food or gift shopping, figure out the amount you can afford to spend first. Check if you can shop online for any of the items. Make sure you also plan your shopping list and menu ahead of time to avoid any last minute stress.

Learn to say no.

Always saying yes to things you don’t like or can’t fit in your schedule can leave you feeling overwhelmed and even resentful. Friends, colleagues, and family will surely understand if you can’t participate in every activity or gathering.

Don’t neglect healthy habits.

Don’t allow the holidays to become a free-for-all. Overindulgence can leave you feeling guilty and stressed. To ensure you don’t abandon healthy habits, keep the following in mind:

  • Have a healthy snack handy at all times so you don’t go overboard on anything that’s not good for you.
  • Continue to eat healthy meals when you can.
  • Make sure you still get enough sleep.
  • Don’t forget to integrate meditation, yoga, and some deep-breathing exercises in your day.
  • Avoid excessive tobacco or alcohol use.
  • Be mindful of how social media and the information culture can cause undue stress and minimise the time you spend reading or watching the news and scrolling through social media.

Over to You

Don’t allow the holidays to cause you unwanted stress and anxiety. Learn to recognise your triggers like personal demands and financial pressures. This is important so you can combat anything effectively before they lead to an eventual meltdown. With a little planning and some discipline, you can find joy and peace during the holidays and still keep your sanity.