The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for many, but for others, it can be just the opposite. This is a hard time of the year for a lot of people. Many times, stress and depression around the holidays are actually a result of our expectations.
- Expectations that the holiday will be a certain way—no flexibility for change or reality
- Expectations that holidays are supposed to be stressful—so there is nothing that can be done, or even that that is a desired state
A few things that you can do if you are feeling stressed around the holidays include:
- Set a goal of having a less stressful holiday
- Determine the aspects of the holiday that are most important to you
- Be open to change (things don’t always have to be the way they’ve always been)
- Brainstorm with the people involved on how to meet your goals for the holiday
This allows you to:
- Plan your holiday experiences – Accept only those engagements that fit into your goals for the holiday
- Plan your spending – Even if you aren’t normally a list maker, make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for. At the top of the list, write the amount that you can afford to spend, then determine how much can be spent for each gift. Keep this in line with your goals.
- Don’t use food or alcohol to cope with the holiday stress – Good nutrition is an important aspect of stress management. Make sure that you meet your nutritional needs during the holidays. There are often more opportunities to drink alcohol during the holidays. Alcohol consumption increases your risk of being involved in an accident and may lead to family discord.
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional help – Depression will strike 62 million Americans at some point in their lives. The additional stress of the holidays may exacerbate those symptoms. Additionally, some people could benefit from professional assistance in coping with stress. If you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to seek help through your or your family members’ employee benefits at work.
Behavioral Health Systems provides managed behavioral healthcare programs including employee assistance and wellness services to companies in all 50 states. BHS Spotlight December 1, 2016.