by Dr. Elil
The holiday season can be a time of great joy and togetherness. But for many people, there’s also a constant feeling of stress that lasts from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s. Between preparing feasts, buying presents, and traveling to see family, there’s a giant to-do list in many people’s heads that doesn’t get checked off until the new year begins. The stress and anxiety can make it difficult to find any joy or peace and can aggravate existing conditions like depression and anxiety. Here are some tips to put the cheer back in your winter holidays.
1) Build realistic expectations – It’s easy to fall into the perfection trap – trying to create the perfect, error-free holiday that everyone will enjoy. But anytime you get cooking, family, children, and gifts in one place, you’re bound to have a meltdown or two. Everything isn’t going to go perfectly, and that’s okay. Start with a realization that things will go wrong and that the celebration you experience will be different from the one you pictured. Try to keep in mind that the unexpected is part of what makes life enjoyable!
2) Minimize your time on social media – If you look at all the “perfect” Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s pictures and posts on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, it’s easy to get discouraged. It might look like EVERYONE is having a better time, but that’s the illusion of social media. People don’t post about all the frustrations and disappointments they experience over the holidays. Trust me! Everyone experiences stress and letdowns over the holidays. So, minimize social media and for every happy picture you see, there are 50 moments of sadness, stress, and frustration that no one ever mentions!
3) Focus on self-care – As much as everyone has demands of your time over the holidays, it’s also really important to balance that with your own need to stay healthy. If you currently have ways you take care of yourself during the rest of the year – working out, meditation, eating healthy, quiet time reading – continue to do those things. If you don’t have any self-care rituals, it’s the perfect time to create some! Although it can feel selfish to take time away from others, in the long run, it’s going to help everyone stay sane. Especially if you currently struggle with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness, self care is crucial. If you feel comfortable, let the people in your life know what you’ll need to do to practice self-care ahead of time, so they know what to expect.
4) Create connection – There are always people who can’t afford to go home or have to work and can’t travel to see family. With the expectation that the holidays are about family and togetherness, you can end up feeling even more lonely. Everyone will have times when they can’t spend the holidays in the place they call home. But you can create new connections and traditions! Invite people out for a “Friendsgiving” meal. or find ways to volunteer with others to give back during the holidays. Even if you can’t be with your family, you don’t have to be alone.
I hope these tips help you have a happy and less stressful holiday season!