However, despite how common depression is around this time of year, most of us choose to suffer in silence. And those who want to speak out and seek help are unable to find any. It has been observed that during the festive season even with high demands, mental health services operate with reduced staff. Due to the lack of proper professional support, most of the requests for help are left unmet.
Coping with holiday anxiety and depression
“Depression is useful. It signals that you need to make changes in your life, it challenges your tendency to withdraw, it reminds you to take action.” – Gloria Anzaldua
With stress running high inside you while the holiday cheer warms everyone else’s hearts, you need to find some effective strategies to manage your stress, anxiety and depression on Christmas holiday to protect your emotional and mental well being.
Here are a few tips for coping with stress and depression on Christmas and during the holidays:
1. Plan ahead
Make some time to figure out how you can stay in a healthy mental space during this period. Set up some restorative routines that make you feel better and note them down on a calendar. Make sure to stick to your routine despite how busy you get during the festive season. Knowing the basics and making them a priority can be of great help. Plan ahead for shopping, cooking, and visiting family & friends. Once you know what you will have to go through, you will be better prepared to face the holiday depression.
2. Check your expectations
Have realistic expectations. There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas. So stop expecting one. This Christmas will not be like the last one nor any other that you keep holding on to. Realize that your family members are growing up and facing their own challenges, just as you are. So your family traditions and rituals will change accordingly. Look forward to knowing your family better and creating connections instead of seeking happiness. Keep your focus on creating new memories while cherishing the old ones.
If you are invited to some social events and you’ve hyped yourself up, then you need to decide if attending the event is more important than your mental health. If you have high expectations from yourself and from social events, then you need to lower your expectations as it may leave you disappointed. You have the power to choose how you want to spend your holiday and there is no compulsion for you to go somewhere you don’t want to. In case you are going out to a party, make sure to have a plan and an exit strategy in place.
3. Follow a strict budget
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Christmas can be financially challenging which might be one of the reasons you feel depressed. This is why you need to make sure that you stick to a budget. Decide beforehand how much you can afford to spend on shopping, gifts and food and then follow your budget. Buying a ton of gifts won’t buy you happiness. Instead, focus on strengthening relationships by giving thoughtful gifts, not expensive ones.
4. Acknowledge your feelings
“If depression is creeping up and must be faced, learn something about the nature of the beast: You may escape without a mauling.” – Dr. R. W. Shepherd
Depression is a serious mental disorder and you need to give it all the attention you can, especially when you have no one you can share your feelings with. Understand and acknowledge your thoughts and emotions with compassion and empathy. Do not judge what you are feeling and simply try to observe with the intent of understanding what is affecting you in particular. Grieve, mourn, cry and express your feelings as much as you need to. There is nothing wrong with feeling down just because it’s Christmas. There is no need for you to force yourself to feel the holiday cheer.