Stressed? Depressed? Here’s How To Cope
If you’re feeling Grinch-y, Scrooge-y and a bit more than bah hum-bugged, overwhelmed by the array of demands the holidays bring, there are ways to make things better, according to a Mayo Clinic release.
Among the stressors are too many – sometimes unwelcome – guests, selecting and then paying for gifts, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining. And the list goes on, depending on your own circumstances. Plenty to make for a no-good, no-fun, no-happy Noel.
The trick, if possible, is to recognize the potential and stop it at the pass. Especially if you’ve had problems in the past, anticipate an emotional toll and don’t let it happen.
The Clinic’s suggestions include:
1. Acknowledge your feelings. If you’ve had particular challenges recently, don’t expect them to be less emotionally draining just because it’s the holidays. It’s all right to cry or otherwise express your feelings.
2. Reach out to others. If loneliness or isolation get too big to bear alone, seek out community, religious or other opportunities to be with others. Volunteer to help others as a way to put your troubles into perspective and broaden friendships.
3. Be realistic. Nobody’s holidays are perfect. If things are different from last year, if your family structure has changed, traditions and rituals altered, don’t expect things to be the same. Hold onto some of your personal traditions and be open to new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t make it home, find new ways to share long-distance, through emails, pictures, chats or videos.
4. Set aside differences. Looking for the ideal in any normal family is an exercise in futility. Accept each other as is. If there are grievances, wait for a more opportune time to discuss them. If others get upset or distressed, be understanding. Avoid confrontation.
5. Stick to a budget. If your stress and depression are triggered by money matters, make them matter less. Plan a realistic holiday budget and then stick to it. Buying an avalanche of gifts that you can’t afford will only extend the pain beyond the holidays. Give homemade gifts, donate to a charity in another’s name, promote a family gift exchange.
6. Plan your time. Divide up the chores into manageable bits: a time for shopping, baking, parties and other activities. Avoid last-minute scrambling. Be sure you have the ingredients you need for cooking. Line up help for preparation and cleanup.
7. Learn to say No. If you overextend yourself, you end up feeling resentful and overwhelmed. If you can’t involve yourself in every possibility that comes your way, don’t feel the need to apologize. If you can’t avoid the added demands, for instance, if the boss says he needs you overtime, drop something else from your schedule if you can. The days during the holiday season are just 24 hours long, as usual. Don’t try to pack them too tightly.
8. Retain healthy habits. Have a snack before a party to avoid overeating. Get enough sleep. Make exercise part of every day.
9. Take a breather. Make time to relax and be by yourself. Just 15 minutes may be enough to refresh and help you handle what’s on the agenda. Take a nighttime walk. Listen to music, read a book, get a massage. Whatever it takes to relieve the tension and prepare you to jump back into the maelstrom.
Laugh out loud.
10. Get professional help if you need it. If you persistently feel sad or anxious, have recurring physical symptoms, can’t sleep, are irritable and feel hopeless and unable to face routine expectations, see a doctor or mental health professional.