|One way to relieve the stress of the holiday season is to escape it by spending quality time with loved ones to refresh yourself.|
The holidays are supposed to be a time of year when friends and family gather to enjoy each other's company and reflect on their good fortune. However, for some, the holidays can be a time of anxiety, uncertainty and depression.
The reasons for such feelings can vary greatly depending on the individual. For some, the holidays act as a reminder of a lost loved one, while others simply struggle with the increased stress that comes with the season. Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) offers the following tips for coping with stress and depression during the holiday season.
Focus on the big picture. Keep in mind that the holiday season is just that, a season. Don't place all your focus on one day, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. Lessen stress by spreading out activities and not placing too great an emphasis on a specific holiday. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment and feelings of failure should something not go according to plan.
Don't use alcohol as a crutch. Far too many people turn to alcohol during the holiday season to calm nerves or as the centerpiece of festivities. It's no coincidence that alcohol-related traffic accidents are at their highest during the holiday season. That's because alcohol is at seemingly every turn during the holidays, be it an office party or a gathering with friends. But for those who are finding the holiday season especially difficult, alcohol should be avoided. Alcohol is a depressant and will only make matters worse.
Don't repress certain feelings. Like any other season, the holiday season has room for sadness. It's perfectly normal to feel sadness over a lost loved one during the holiday season. But sharing those feelings with others who miss the person as well can be a healthy form of coping. Even if you don't share those feelings, don't dwell on the person's absence, dwell on the good times you had with the person.
Feelings of loneliness also become more prevalent around the holidays. If that's the case, try volunteering with a local charity. This can be a great way to meet new and well-meaning people.
Make time for yourself. The stress of the holiday season is thanks in large part to the busier schedule that comes with entertaining and shopping. But make sure that schedule includes some time for you to recharge your batteries. Stay in and watch a movie, go for a walk, or just schedule an activity you can enjoy that's free of stress. You might be surprised how refreshing one day away from the hectic holiday season can be.
Change your celebration. If your feelings of sadness stem from the loss of someone with whom you're used to celebrating the holidays, consider changing the way you celebrate. For example, if hosting a holiday dinner has traditionally fallen on your shoulders, ask a relative to play host this year so you can relax and enjoy time spent with loved ones. Or host the dinner but have it catered instead of cooking yourself.
Surround yourself with loved ones or caring people. Perhaps the best advice is to not suffer alone or in silence. The holidays should not be a time of loneliness, so make an effort to spend more time with loved ones if you're feeling lonely or sad. Don't just visit on an actual holiday. If you have to go shopping for gifts, invite a friend or relative along and make a day of it.
To learn more about depression and ways to cope, visit the Mental Health America Web site at www.nmha.org.