For most, the holidays are equal parts joy and stress. Sometimes this time of year can be downright overwhelming. So consider trying some of these strategies to prevent holiday stress and depression:
First, acknowledge your feelings. It is normal to be missing someone that has passed away or is no longer in your life. Acknowledge that this is a part of the grieving process and find a way that makes sense to honor and remember them.
Reach out for support from others. There are many others that are looking for people to spend time with during this time of year. Seek out local religious organizations, community centers, and non-profits. Many places have networks of people that are welcoming and have great activities, dinners, and gatherings during this time of year. Volunteering your time can always be a wonderful way to give back to the community and to also feel good about helping others.
Be realistic about your expectations of others. This time of year doesn’t have to be perfect. It also doesn’t have to be exactly the same as last year or the year before. Creating new traditions can be just as exciting as partaking in your old traditions. Take a moment to create a new memory.
Set aside any differences. Be accepting and understanding of one another for a time by putting aside the things that tangle your tinsel. It’s a time to be together. If you only have negative memories, it’s time to make some new memories. Start with games to break the ice and get to know each other on a good note. The tinsel will soon shine on again.
Stick to a budget. Money is usually a stressor for most. Before going gift and food shopping, plan ahead on what you can afford. One or two items off the list may lead into a worry cycle, increasing your stress level. Try these alternatives: donate to local charities, give homemade gifts, start a family gift exchange.
Plan ahead. Take a calendar and mark the days for shopping, baking, visiting friends. Plan the menus for the meals and make the lists. Avoid the busiest times at the stores so you miss the chaos. Many menu items can be purchased over time and frozen, so no need to rush everything into one week, spread things out.
Learn to say no. This time of year can get busy with parties and family gatherings. The boss may want you to stay for overtime. Next thing you know, you are exhausted, overwhelmed, and overbooked. People will understand if you need to start saying, “No.” Schedule some “me” time in there for yourself, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Take that time to refocus, take a short nap, refresh.
Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, unable to sleep, or even hopeless. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Family Counseling Services offers same day access for mental health evaluations. All you have to do is walk into our office at 10 N. Main St during regular business hours and we will provide you with the information needed to get started.
This is a stressful time of year for everyone. Be sure to make your mental and physical health a priority to help maintain a happy and healthy new year!
By Linnay Harmer, Prevention Specialist
Cortland Prevention Resources