Coping strategies for the holidays

Negative emotions can creep in during the holidays, especially if you feel out of touch with family and friends. “The holidays can be the worst time of the year,” says Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

What causes holiday blues?

Sadness is a personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Typically, holiday sadness involves unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial stress, or being disconnected from family. Grieving the loss of loved one over the holiday season is particularly difficult.

Feeling down during the holidays is hard, especially if you feel out of touch with family and friends around you. The holidays can be the hardest time of the year.

For many, the idea of entering a crowded room and chatting up coworkers or strangers at a party, exchanging gifts, or attending large family gatherings can cause anxiety. Holiday parties are stressful and can be terrifying for people with social anxiety disorder. These can bring stress, disappointment, emotional eating, and overindulgence.

Coping Strategies to Help You Get Through the Holidays and Enjoy Life

It is imperative to practice healthy coping strategies year-round and especially during the holiday

Keep exercise a priority. Getting regular exercise can be as effective as taking antidepressants for some people.

Practice gratitude. Gratitude is about appreciating what we have rather than dwelling on what we’re missing. Work on increasing your gratitude over the holidays and into the new year.

Ensure adequate sleep. Sleep is essential to life’s daily routine, it keeps our minds and bodies healthy.

Keep expectations modest. Don’t get hung up on what the holidays are supposed to be. Take the holidays as they come and let the chips fall where they fall.

Take the pressure off yourself. Know that some things won’t go exactly as planned and be okay with it.

Don’t seek relief in alcohol or drugs. It can be tempting, but alcohol and drugs only make anxiety worse and may trigger panic attacks.

Choose to say no. Do not over schedule you don’t have to feel obligated to accept every invitation, and you may want to eliminate some traditions that cause you more stress than joy.

Lean on your support network. Take time to get together with your supporting friends. Keep in touch by phone to keep yourself centered.