Coping with Holiday Depression and Anxiety
Winter is settling upon us like a cat on a pile of fresh laundry, bringing with it colder temperatures, shortened daylight, and the hubbub of the holidays. The winter holidays are fraught with intense, conflicting emotions that can lead you to feel anxious, depressed, and inclined to revert to unhealthy outlets.
Take this time to remember what’s truly important to you, realize that you can still connect with the people you love, and hold fast to your resolutions. It may be a challenge, but keeping your morale high and your determination steadfast in the face of this challenging period will only serve you well in the long term.
The Stress of Obligation
One of the most taxing parts of the holidays can be the obligation we feel to give of ourselves to others. Whether it’s the pressure of trying to find the right gifts, the financial strain, or the social duties of Zoom calls and virtual reunions, all the trappings of this beautiful time of year can put real pressure on your mind and emotions.
Relieve anxiety by remembering what the Grinch learns at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Christmas (or any holiday) isn’t about gifts or parties. It’s about something more. Get in touch with love in your heart, and remember that the people in your life don’t like you because you buy them things or you spend all your time with them. People like you because you’re you. You are worthwhile even if you don’t buy a single present, even if you don’t attend a single Zoom call, and even if you don’t feel the holiday spirit yourself. Put your well-being first, and let yourself be.
It’s Okay to Do Things Differently
Remember that the holidays are different for everyone this year, not just for you. Even if you used to celebrate your loved ones by purchasing them unique gifts or throwing famous parties, no one needs to be surprised or disappointed in you for doing things differently this time. Scores of people lost their jobs or have been furloughed or reduced to partial income; the obligation to buy presents for the people in your life shouldn’t take priority over the realities of your situation. Go old-fashioned and sent out cards or letters to let your family and friends know you love them. Your kind words will be appreciated, and you won’t need to strain yourself trying to find the funds for gifts. It may sound cliche, but the greatest gifts you can give or receive right now are your love, kindness, and understanding in this trying time - and those are free.
Many of us are used to attending holiday parties, family gatherings, and friendly get-togethers at this time of year. The chill in the air makes it hard to be alone, and your home may seem darker and quieter than usual because of what you know you’re missing. Don’t let it take you to a depressive place - reach out to the people in your life who love you and connect with them in a heartfelt way. You can still reach the good feelings between yourself and anyone else; it just might take some creativity. We’re all going through this at the same time, so don’t let it beat you by driving you towards relapse, depression, or hopelessness.
It’s Still the Holidays
One of the greatest factors that may lead you to depression or anxiety at this time of year may be the unhappy realization that the holidays just aren’t going to look the same. From missing out on embracing your loved ones to not being able to eat your grandma’s delicious green bean casserole, it’s easy to feel like this holiday season has a gaping void.
Your feelings are valid, and the chances are likely that some of the people in your life feel the same. The holidays are when most people associate with visiting their loved ones and celebrating life’s joys; everyone is going through the challenge of distancing and isolation right now. Use that fact to connect with people as hard as you can in a way that keeps you safe. Send postcards, set up video calls, and take the time to be thankful for the people you love. Together or apart, your love is just as strong, and it’s something to lean on to help you make it through this trying time.
Whether you’re looking forward to the holidays or dreading them, be prepared for the rush of intense emotions that they can bring. As you face the obligations and turmoil that the holidays can bring, make sure to keep watch over your mental well-being. Have healthy outlets in place, and don’t hold yourself to commitment standards that put you under undue pressure. “To give is to receive” also applies to you - be forgiving and generous with yourself. Your mental health is a priority, and you can celebrate the holidays without spreading yourself thin or bending over backward to hit the standards of previous years. Stay in contact with your close friends, family, and treatment professionals to ensure you won’t have to work through any depression or anxiety alone. If you’re experiencing difficult emotions this holiday season, Achieve Medical is here to help. We provide comprehensive and compassionate mental health and wellness services to children, adolescents, and adults. Call Achieve Medical at (619) 375-3977 to learn how to start your journey to wellness today.