Holiday stress can be a serious concern for many of us in any given year, but especially in 2020. It’s no secret this year has been both chaotic and isolating. Unfortunately, the year-end festivities can compound this.
That said, keeping a firm control over your emotional well-being at this time can be a very good thing. Fortunately, there are many ways to go about doing this. Check out these ways to manage your mental health when holiday depression begins to set in.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”
The holidays can be overwhelming, especially for someone struggling with mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Spreading yourself too thin across multiple family functions or trying to make your house look spotless for holiday get-togethers is just opening the door to overwhelming, negative feelings.
In this case, it’s ok to say to turn down a few invitations or to opt-out of hosting an annual party yourself. This gives you the opportunity to reach out and suggest one-on-one time with family and friends in a much more manageable way.
Be Mindful of Your Finances
From gift-giving to travel costs, the holidays can often be the most expensive time of the year. Finances are a leading cause of stress and anxiety, so it’s important to keep a handle on them as best you can.
Instead of gift-exchanges, you could consider opting for low-cost activities you can share with loved ones. A home-cooked meal or a coffee date are both good alternatives. Remember, it’s not unreasonable to set spending limits or make homemade gifts if you’re worried about affording holiday presents.
Don’t Rely on Drugs and Alcohol
All that “holiday cheer” can come in many different forms, especially alcohol, which is usually drunk in celebration during the season.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends avoiding drugs and alcohol for comfort. While the stress of the holidays can make the prospect of an escape seem appealing, substance abuse can ultimately worsen mental health issues.
If you do feel the need for a relaxation aid, try turning to mindfulness tactics and other healthy coping mechanisms instead.
Step Away For Toxic Conversations
Unfortunately, many families have at least one particularly toxic family member with a pension for turning seemingly normal, harmless conversations into a full-blown family feud. If you start to see things take a turn for the worst, DO NOT ENGAGE.
There is absolutely no shame in removing yourself from uncomfortable situations, and you should absolutely feel free to leave the room or step outside until cooler heads prevail.
Whether your dread is centered around being grilled over politics, life choices, relationship status, or even your mental health, you have a few options for handling toxic family members.
It can sometimes help to rehearse your replies to anticipated questions. This way, you’re not caught off-guard and find yourself struggling for the right words to say. You can also attempt to change the subject of the conversation to something else, but avoid doing so maliciously. For example, don’t respond to questions about your recent breakup with retaliatory questions about their recent career failures.
You can also simply inform someone that their chosen topic of conversation is a sensitive or uncomfortable one for you, but unfortunately this won’t work for everyone, as some people just don’t have a problem with making you uncomfortable. In this scenario, removing yourself from the line of fire is the best option.
Set Realistic Expectations
When it comes to the holidays, you should always know what to expect regarding the season’s effect on your mental health. This is not meant to be pessimistic, but rather to prevent you from getting your hopes too high and assist you in staying as stable as possible.
Managing mental health is always a challenge, but with recent global events and the holiday season itself, the struggles can feel particularly isolating.
That said, remember that you are far from alone. There still exist a variety of support platforms and professional mental health services that can help you stay connected and in touch with mental wellness throughout the year.
At Lehigh Center for Clinical Research, we aim to develop treatments for mental health disorder by conducting trials and studies that give us more information about the issues many of us face each and every day.
If you’re interested in helping others live with mental health disorders, don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about what we do! We are excited to hear from you!