By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*
The holidays can be demanding, overwhelming and for some, down right depressing. Bombarded with expectations and so many things to do, it is easy to fall victim to holiday stress.
If you let the stress of the holidays get to you, it is hard to stop and regroup. The key is to take steps to prevent stress or depression from occurring in the first place. Here are a few tips that just might help you get through the holidays.
- Be realistic: The holidays don’t have to be perfect!
- Set aside differences: Try and accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. As my dear mother-in-law used to say, “People aren’t always going to do to suit you.” Even if for one day, steer clear of topics that tend to cause upset in the family.
- Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out social events. Volunteering your time to help others can lift your spirits and perhaps broaden your friendships.
- Acknowledge your feelings: If you can’t be with loved ones, or if someone close to you recently died, it is normal to feel sadness and grief. It is OK to take time to cry and express your feelings.
- Stick to a budget: Merchants start offering holiday sales earlier and earlier and the urge to overspend can be very tempting. Before you go shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend and stick to that amount.
- Plan ahead: Pick days you are going to shop, bake, decorate, gift-wrap, etc. Plan your menus so you can make a shopping list. You don’t want to have to run to the store for those last minutes items you forgot.
- Learn to say no: Saying yes to every project or activity can make you feel very resentful, overwhelmed and even take the joy out of the holidays.
- Don’t abandon healthy habits: Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Eat healthy snacks, get plenty of sleep and try and incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
- Take a breather: Make some time for yourself. Find something that can restore your inner calm.
- Seek professional help if needed: Sometimes your best efforts still leave you feeling persistently sad or anxious. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor.
It is important to recognize the holiday triggers that cause you stress or depression, and combat them before they lead you to a place where you lose the peace and joy of the holiday season.
Excerpts from Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle
*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.