Ahhhhh, the holidays. If we're to believe the schwoopsy-poo movies and the commercials interrupting our favorite programs, this is truly the most wonderful time of the year. And in a lot of ways, it is. The spirit of giving, of kindness, of joy, those are wonderful things that happen this season (and should happen ALL year long).
But there are a lot of challenges with the holidays, especially for those of us who suffer from depression. Here are some ways you can manage your stress and depression during the holidays.
1) Remember that you are one person, and while the rest of the world may want you to do this and that for them, the holidays matter for you, too.
2) Practice saying "no" to things you can't do. It may bother some people, but others will understand that you're simply doing the best you can.
3) Don't isolate yourself. Most people who suffer from depression tend to keep to themselves when they're feeling particularly low. The holidays are not a great time for that.
4) Let other people know when you're feeling overwhelmed.
5) If you're separated from family and friends, volunteer your time at the soup kitchen or visit a local nursing home. Anything to make you feel less alone.
6) Don't fault yourself for not being holly OR jolly if you simply can't this year. It happens. Allow yourself your feelings.
7) When you're feeling the stress build up, get outside and into the sunshine. Take a quick walk. Not only is that good for your physical health, but exercise releases endorphins, which are the pleasure chemicals, so you may even begin to feel a little happier.
8) If you know a certain situation will trigger depression or stress, back out of it before it can happen. There's no shame in this. None.
9) When you have TOO many family members and all of them want to see you, don't hesitate to pop in and then leave.
10) Don't go over-budget. While giving feels wonderful (and it does!), so does not stressing about money after (or during) the holidays.
11) Make sure your goals are realistic. While making 173 dozen batches of cookies and making your house as festive as Martha Stewart may seem like a good idea, it can also be a recipe for disaster.
12) Keep your plan of attack for the holidays (first we visit your mom, then mine, etc.) and don't let others sway you into committing to more.
13) Think of the kids. If you have children, remember that more doesn't equal better. While they may get hyper while traveling to 45 houses, there will be an inevitable crash and burn. Make sure they're comfortable and happy (which often means doing less!).
14) If you can't travel cross-country this year for whatever reason, that doesn't make you a bad person; it makes you human. Holidays can be just as lovely if celebrated on a smaller scale.
15) Focus on the parts of the season that matter to you -- if you love to bake, do that. If you love to wrap presents, do that. Delegate other tasks to other people whenever possible.
How do you cope with the stress of the holidays?
Image via cassie_bedfordgolf/Flickr