Though the holidays can be a time of joy and celebration, they can also (unfortunately) be exceedingly stressful and exhausting. With so much to think about and stay on top of — such as hosting parties, travel plans, gift shopping, and tolerating your miserable relatives –, it can be easy to get lost among it all and forget what this time of the year is truly about.
If you frequently suffer from November and December Blues, you don’t have to just sit back and take it this year. Though such stress can be overwhelming, it is also predictable — this means that you (and your therapist) can create a plan on how you’ll deal with it all. Here are a few ways to get started.
- Set your priorities: Consider which traditions are the most important to you, and have the most positive impact on your life. By eliminating superfluous activities that do nothing but contribute to your seasonal anxiety, you’ll find every day a little bit easier to handle.
- Pay attention to your holiday eating: The saying “look good, feel good” has never been more true, and goes both ways. Food can be a cause of guilt for many people, and both Thanksgiving and Christmas is chock full of it. By considering what you put into your body (and perhaps limiting how much you consume), you may find yourself looking better, feeling better, and being better.
- Change your expectations: Setting expectations that you know won’t be met is a surefire path to disappointment. While this is the most difficult aspect of holiday stress prep, if mastered, it can have a profound effect on your entire life — when you create realistic expectations, you’ll find yourself a happier person.
If you’re one of the 350 million people worldwide who already suffer from some form of depression, the holidays can feel like the proverbial straw, just ready to break the camel’s back. However, you aren’t powerless in this fight: with the assistance of therapy and a clear plan, you’ll see the holiday season in a new light. And don’t be afraid to shop around for therapists; their job is to help you better understand yourself and your anxiety — if the first three therapists didn’t feel like the right fit, keep looking! And never give up.