The holidays should be a festive time filled with joy and peace, but sometimes the dizzying array of demands – shopping, wrapping, baking, and entertaining – results in stress and even depression. In fact, a recent study revealed that nearly 90 percent of Americans feel some kind of anxiety and/or stress during the holidays.
“We have higher expectations during the holidays than any other time of the year,” says Bart Mongiello, LCSW, Director of Christian Health Care Counseling Center and Ramapo Ridge Partial-hospitalization Program. “We want the season to be perfect, but that often conflicts with the realities of daily life. The potential stress and depression can ruin your holidays.”
Take a deep breath, practice the tips and coping strategies which follow, and you can put the happy back in holidays.
- Always remember the real meaning of the season. Participate in services at your church. Listen to Christmas hymns. Read Christmas scriptures. You’ll feel better spiritually, mentally, and physically.
- Acknowledge that the holidays don’t need to be perfect. It is normal for traditions and rituals to change through the years. Keep some, and embrace new ones.
- Maintain healthy habits. Don’t consider the holidays as a free-for-all. Exercise regularly, get sufficient sleep, and eat wisely. Have a healthy snack before holiday gatherings to avoid overindulging in sweets, beverages, and calorie-rich foods. You’ll feel better physically and mentally.
- Plan ahead. Set aside time for shopping, baking, decorating, etc. Carefully review recipes and create a grocery list to avoid running out for missing ingredients. When possible, cook and freeze food ahead of time.
- Ask guests to bring a dish to a holiday gathering. Assign decorating tasks to everyone in your household.
- Adhere to a budget. An avalanche of gifts doesn’t lead to happiness. Make homemade gifts or start a friends-and-family grab-bag exchange.
- Consider donating to a charity, or sponsoring a needy family by providing a tree, food, and gifts.
- Make time for yourself every day. Take a walk, listen to music, or read a book to clear your mind and restore inner calm.
- If the holidays make you feel lonely, volunteer at a soup kitchen, charity event, or Christian Health Care Center. You’ll be giving back to the community, while connecting with new friends.
- If a loved one recently passed, the holidays may intensify feelings of sadness and grief. Christian Health Care Center (CHCC) offers monthly Faith & Grief Luncheons at noon third Wednesdays in the DeYoung Auditorium. Open to people of all faiths, the gathering provides support and strength through sharing, scripture, prayer, and reflection.
- If negative feelings persist, seek professional help. Christian Health Care Counseling Center helps clients of all ages – from children to seniors – learn coping skills they need to function in all areas of community. A wide range of outpatient treatment modalities are offered, including individual and family therapy.