Saturday, December 16, 2006

Holiday Depression And Stress

Graphic courtesy of clipsahoy

I am one of those people who experience "holiday blues" so I thought I'd post this to let others know you aren't alone, and that there are some things you can do to help you cope with holiday stress and depression.

Though I found it on several internet sites, the article below is reprinted from because it appears to be the original. I have added a few of my own comments enclosed in brackets [ ].

Holiday Depression And Stress

The holiday season for most people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations and social gatherings with family and friends. For many people, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety.

What causes holiday blues?

Sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Typical sources of holiday sadness include:

  • stress,
  • fatigue,
  • unrealistic expectations [your own and others],
  • [feelings of guilt due to inability to accomplish unrealistic expectations]
  • over-commercialization,
  • financial stress, and
  • the inability to be with one's family and friends.
  • [holiday travel; being away from your own home if you pay an extended visit to others.]

Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension. People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses, such as:

  • headaches,
  • excessive drinking,
  • over-eating, and
  • insomnia.
  • [heartburn and indigestion – these can be independent stress responses unrelated to eating.]

Others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year's/January 1st. This can result from built-up expectations, disappointments from the previous year, coupled with stress and fatigue.

Tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:

  • [Decide – yes, CHOOSE – to have a good holiday. The power of your mind and thoughts to affect your mood and determine your course is boundless….use it to create a good holiday!]
  • [Learn to graciously but firmly say NO]
  • [Self-assess and be aware of how you are feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically.]
  • [Take a break when you need one – this is not selfish, it's survival]
  • [Do something nice just for yourself.]
  • Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  • Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  • Do not put all your energy into just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.
  • Live and enjoy the present.
  • Look to the future with optimism.
  • Don't set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.
  • If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.
  • Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations; going window shopping without buying and watching the winter weather whether it's a snowflake, or a raindrop.
  • Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people.
  • Reach out and make new friends.
  • Make time to contact a long lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
  • Make time for yourself!
  • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  • Keep track of your holiday spending. Over-spending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.


amyrosaquintana said...

Great Article Michelle! We all have our limits to what we can accomplish during this season. The focus should always be on the real meaning this time represents for us. Maybe it would help to not be so hard on ourselves during this time of year. Have a wonderful holiday season everyone!

JLB said...

I like your added bullet-point of "Learn to graciously but firmly say NO". That is so important, and so empowering. It comes down to a simple question, "Why am I making myself do this when it makes me unhappy?"

Saying no thank you is ok! :D

Michelle said...

Hi Amy, yes, being gentle to ourselves would make the season much brighter and "ligher" in many ways, I'm sure!!

Hi JLB, that was one I had to work on; the pressure to "do it all" is enormous, but learning that gracious line "no; sorry, but I can't" was worth it. :-)

Charlsie said...

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for sharing this wonderful article with us! Like many others I use to stress myself out during this time of year. . . you know, searching endlessly to find that perfect gift and involvement in numerous other activities that I thought I had to do, or else.

Finally I woke up! :) Now I realize that the greatest gift of all is Me. . . or You, and the love we can share.

'Love' is the only gift that will last through eternity. Those material gifts will eventually go by the wayside. However, the essence, the energy, of You will always be here!

Here's wishing you Happy, Safe, Joyful and Stress Free Holidays. . . Charlsie