When you think of the holidays, you might envision a time of joy and merriment. But for many, the reality of the holidays is quite different. Many experience feelings of anxiety and depression during this “happy” time of year. This occurs to more people than you may realize. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, roughly 64% of Americans experiencing the “Holiday Blues” each year.
What causes the blues? Several factors can impact whether you experience these feelings. Your past experiences and interactions with others can either bring up good memories or sad feelings. All of these factors shape your perceptions and your experience during the holidays. Other sources of holiday depression or anxiety may be your current financial situation, your relationship status, or your overall health.
For the millions of people who already live with a mental health condition, the holidays can become increasingly daunting. What some perceive as the exciting “hustle and bustle” of the season may feel incredibly overwhelming to another. It is important to reach out to a professional to assist you with these issues if you are experiencing this yourself.
Remember that striving to achieve the “optimal” holiday is an unrealistic goal. Instead, find simple ways to enjoy the holidays on your own terms. Remain present and in the moment. Set realistic goals and focus on self-acceptance rather than comparison. Spend time with those that matter to you, instead of feeling compelled to join in the cheer everywhere.
Here are 10 simple ways to reframe your mindset about the holidays and set yourself up to enjoy the season:
1. Set boundaries with others.
2. Set your own financial plans and don’t overextend yourself.
3. Journal your thoughts about your feelings, and try to pinpoint the source of your holiday blues.
4. Be proactive and identify any upcoming holiday challenges, and make a plan to address them early.
5. Avoid alcoholic beverages as they further depress your mood.
6. Go outside daily.
7. Stick to, or develop, a regular plan for physical activity.
8. Minimize your consumption of sweets. They can have a negative effect on your mood and your energy level.
9. Don’s isolate. Remain connected to a healthy support system.
10. Get adequate rest and sleep.