“How am I supposed to make it through the Holidays?” “It is going to be different this year with them not here.” “I do not want to have to see him again”. The Holidays can bring joy, but can also bring pain. The Holidays are a time of year when everyone in the family comes together. However, you may have lost loved ones, have to face the person who abused you at a young age, have nowhere to go for the holidays or have unresolved conflict with members of the family. The Holidays can bring on depression, anxiety, and isolation. Following these tips can help alleviate the holiday blues:
- Give yourself grace. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one the first anniversary or holiday season can be very difficult. Knowing the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance may be helpful in navigating your feelings.
- Express your feelings. Do not be afraid to express what is going on inside. Many times you may feel like talking about what you are feeling may be burdensome to others so you withhold your feelings. Letting unexpressed feelings build up can lead to anxiety and depression. Others in the family may feel the same as you and may be able to help you talk your feelings through or have a sense of comradery and normalcy.
- Set firm boundaries. It is okay to say no. If you feel stretched thin over the holidays to make it to all festivities it is okay to say no or give an allowable amount of time that you feel you can stay. It is okay to have an exit strategy. If you feel overwhelmed you can excuse yourself and go for a walk or take some time to regather yourself. You do not have to feel that you have to “keep it together”. Wearing a mask only makes you feel more isolated and depressed.
- Keep up your self-care routine. During the holiday season busing yourself with buying gifts, family functions, and planning can unconsciously make self-care harder to prioritize. Do not allow the hustle and bustle of the holidays to eliminate the time you take for yourself. Self-care and coping will be the main ways to decrease anxiety and depression.
- Deep breathing
- Be mindful
- Taking time to slow down
- Notice your triggers. Know what makes you upset during family gatherings or specific thoughts that you have going into the holidays. Change your thoughts to become more positive to break out of negative thought patterns and feedback loops that heighten stress. Try a thankfulness journal to help breed more positivity.
6. Seek out professional help if necessary. If you feel the holidays have become too much stress or you are unable to process what is going on it is okay to seek out the help from a counselor. Counselors can help you process through your triggers and give you coping skills to alleviate the stresses you are currently facing.