The holiday season can be a joyous time. A season to get together with family or friends, bake cookies, have time off work and/or school, and enjoy what winter has to offer. That being said, the holiday season can also be stressful. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or Santa Lucia -holidays can be overwhelming. In fact, according to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association or APA, around 38% percent of people reported that their stress tended to increase during the holidays.
Along with the stress of the holidays, some people may also experience sadness and loneliness more during this particular season than other ones. They may experience something known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, due to the decrease in sunlight exposure, or depression due to losing a loved one and spending the holidays without them. Whatever you are experiencing, know that it’s normal to have these feelings, you are not alone and that there are ways to combat the increase in stress and sadness you may be feeling.
First, it’s important to have realistic expectations and set limits. For example, when the holidays approach, I tend to get a little overwhelmed. I have gifts to buy and wrap, baking to do, etc. While these can be fun stressors, they are stressors nonetheless. At this point, it’s important to take a step back and think about what you can (and want) to accomplish and cut yourself some slack if it doesn’t happen.
Along that same point, when setting limits, it’s okay to avoid people or decline invitations to events that may bring up painful or sad feelings. You may have just lost someone or you may have lost them a few years ago. There is no set timeline for grieving and so if you know beforehand that you are just not in the mood to celebrate, that’s okay. You need to think about what is best for you, which leads to the final piece of advice…
Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Practicing self-care is important all-year-round, but the holiday season can be extra busy and therefore, you might end up neglecting taking care of your physical, mental or even emotional health. So, make sure to have some alone time, take a bath, drink a warm beverage, watch a movie and just slow down if need be.
Remember, you can still enjoy the holiday season while setting realistic expectations for what you want to accomplish and boundaries for what you don’t. You can still be productive, have fun, but don’t forget about the importance of self-care and putting yourself first. Ensuring a “perfect” holiday isn’t worth the stress that it may cause, so don’t forget to take time to relax, unwind and de-stress this holiday season!
Staff Blogger: Mollie Clupper
Mollie Clupper is working for MHA as a Communications and Support Specialist. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her fur-niece.