The Holiday Season is here and for most it is a joyous and fun time. We look forward to spending time with our loved ones near and far and enjoying traditions and making memories. For some however the Holiday Season can be a stressful and difficult time. It can bring on feelings of sadness, loneliness, fear, and anxiety and for vastly different reasons. At this time of year, it can be a reminder of stressors such as loss, family conflict, and financial burden (to name a few) so it is important to recognize what you are feeling and thinking and act accordingly.
There is no specific cause or diagnosis for the “Holiday Blues”, but it is quite common. Although different from mental illness it should be taken seriously as it can lead to clinical anxiety and depression. Contributing factors include financial stress, family obligations, unrealistic expectations, demands of shopping and meeting the social norms for gifting and expectations of being jolly, excessive drinking and overeating. Symptoms experienced can be mild to severe which can include headaches, abdominal pain. difficulty sleeping and concentration problems. There are ways to avoid or minimize holiday blues and get back your control. Recognizing and understanding your triggers and having a mental and emotional plan is key.
1. Be Realistic with Expectations: Understanding your limits and sticking to them should be a priority. You are not a superhero (not officially) so plan for some mishaps. You do not have to be perfect. It is okay to ask family and friends to bring or prepare a dish.
2. Get Organized: Plan ahead and budget both with money and time. Do not try to overextend yourself and say no (as often as needed). If you are cooking buy and prepare food up to two days earlier if possible, especially the desserts. Designate certain tasks that need to get done, such as decorating, shopping, and giftwrapping to local friends and family.
3. Connect with others: Do not try to do everything yourself and ask for help. This year has been one of many changes and if your Holiday Traditions are looking a bit different, embrace the new and find other ways to celebrate. Consider donating time or money to a charity close to your heart. Volunteering can also make you feel whole and purposeful during this time. Call a friend and ask for emotional support.
4. Practice Self-Care: Acknowledge your feelings and moods and accept them without judgments. Focus on the positive. Maintain your same eating, sleeping and exercise routine if you have one. If you do not have a routine be mindful and consider not overeating or drinking and go for a walk before or after the celebration.
5. Meditate: Take some time before, during, and after to center yourself and reflect on what you have. Practice deep breathing techniques focusing on the exhale and slow down your mind and body even if for a few minutes a day. Most importantly be patient and gentle with yourself.
6. Seek Professional Help: When all is said and done and you still find yourself feeling sad, anxious, unable to sleep, physical complaints, irritable and unable to concentrate talk to a mental health professional.
Let me know if this blog article was beneficial and informative to you and if this is something you want to start incorporating in your life. Nourish Wellness offers ongoing Therapeutic Mindfulness Events, Groups and Workshops. Please visit our Event Page on our website for upcoming dates and details.