The Holiday Season can be a time of excitement, parties, gift giving and family gatherings. But for some people, it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, failures and anxiety about an uncertain future. Some people dread the holidays and then feel guilty about it.
The holidays are often filled with memories that become glorified as time passes or linked to loved ones that may no longer be in your life. Divorce, death, and distance are especially painful at this time. If you are worried about the coming holiday season, it’s a good idea to plan ahead.
Begin by evaluating what the holiday season means to you. What values do you think of when you think of the holidays, and are you practicing them? Consider past holidays. Where did you invest your energy? Was it worth it? Consider the rituals and traditions you practice. Which ones did you enjoy?
The following are some tips to help you cope:
Set Realistic Expectations
Most holiday depression is caused by expectations. If you can’t meet the expectations for gifts or celebrations of family members, let them know ahead of time that this holiday will be low key and that you do not have money for expensive gifts this year. Talk with them about what you can realistically do. Don’t allow yourself to have unrealistic expectations of your family and friends. Accept people’s limitations.
Avoid Hectic Schedules
Sit down with your family and/or friends and discuss your calendar. Don’t spend the holidays fulfilling obligations. Pick and choose the activities you want to do rather than those you feel obligated to do. Set priorities and avoid impossible goals.
Regroup and Revitalize
Set aside time for your favorite holiday traditions. Take time to take care of yourself. Be sure to get enough rest. Bake, cook, and freeze ahead of time. Buy prepared foods. Focus on simplicity and the purpose of the get together.
If you will be alone on the holidays, plan ahead for how you will spend the holidays. Invite others over for a meal or party. You can plan a vacation, attend movies, offer to work to help those that need a day off, or volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Dealing With Family
Not all families represent those shown in the media. There may be conflicts, tension and unresolved issues in your family. If you feel the situation is too stressful, you can decide not to celebrate with your family or limit the amount of time you spend together. If there has been a change or loss such as a divorce, remarriage or death since last year, be willing to let go of the way things used to be or “should be”.
Try to limit the holiday treats and alcohol. If you are in recovery from drugs or alcohol, be sure to stay actively involved with your support system and recovery program and plan ahead for coping with holiday parties and stressful situations.
Coping with Depression
If you have lost a loved one or ended a relationship since last year, this may be a particularly painful time. Spend time with people who care about you. Ask for what you need.
Above all, stay safe, stay warm , and we’ll be thinking of you this holiday season!