The holiday season is a busy time for most.
Nothing about our usual daily life goes away but the holidays bring an extra layer of activities and responsibilities, both real and imagined, that take up time, money and emotional energy.
Even if we enjoy many aspects of the season, there may well be moments when we wish we could rewind the calendar to somewhere in the middle of August.
The holidays are also not all tinsel and holly for everyone.
This time of year can bring up feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, stress and even depression.
It’s also a time where people may feel acutely aware of the void left by the loss of a loved one, and/or their own personal loneliness.
Add social events, late nights, overindulging and alcohol and this can be a recipe that elicits strong emotions or makes you more sensitive to both your own feelings, as well as those of others.
Holiday depression, anxiety and stress can affect anyone at any age. Sometimes, these feelings are triggered by a specific event or life experience. There are many things happening around the holidays that can act as triggers.
How can you help yourself?
Holiday depression, stress, or anxiety can be managed. Many people who experience depression, anxiety and stress during the holidays may feel a pressure to just ‘get over it’ on their own.
Others may need time to recognise how deeply this affects their life. If your holiday depression, anxiety or stress seems severe or is interfering with your job or home life, talk to your doctor.
There are things you can do to help you cope through the holiday season. Taking time for yourself, like going for a walk may give you the peace and quiet you need to clear your head and recharge your batteries. Any form of physical activity is good for your health both cardiovascular and mental health too.
Good hormones released through exercise can help you cope better with stress and depression. The physical activity may also help you combat a feeling of loneliness if you join an exercise class, or social game of soccer, or a friend for a walk or cycle. The activity will also help combat some of those extra calories often consumed during the holiday season.
If your stress levels and anxiety are feeling overwhelming, taking time for yourself and having a massage is an excellent way to manage the holiday hype.
Massage not only forces you to relax by lying down and turning off your mobile phone, but the hormones released through massage will lower your anxiety and stress and even help combat depression. The relaxation will make you feel more energetic and relieve any niggling pains or headache.
Meditation, mindfulness and yoga are also excellent ways to help you cope – even if you aren’t a regular yogi year round. As little as 10 minutes of quiet time, deep breathing, or focusing on the important relevant things in life, can make the difference between having a good or bad day.
How can you help others?
Supporting a loved one who is experiencing holiday depression, loneliness or stress can be difficult. You may not understand why your loved one feels or acts a certain way.
Some people who experience this feel like they have to do things a certain way or avoid things or situations, and this can create frustration or conflict with others.
You may feel under pressure to take part in these behaviours or adjust your own behaviours to protect or avoid upsetting a loved one. Support can be a delicate balance.
Make sure you are in a good place emotionally to help and it is not adding to your own burden. You could also ask others to make a call or visit to a family member or friend who you feel needs support.
We’ve put together a range of resources with tips, strategies, advice on mindfulness, even some Yoga poses that you can use to emerge from the Christmas period feeling both mentally and physically healthy.
- 8 tips to reduce the pressure you may feel about the holiday season
- How to reduce the risk of, or prevent a downward spiral of mental health during the holidays
- How to use mindfulness to manage negative feelings
- Techniques for reducing stress and anxiety during a high pressure time
- The role that massage and physical activity can play in combatting stress
- 7 Yoga poses that help reduce stress
We hope you find these resources useful and would like to close by wishing you a very happy and stress-free Christmas break.