While a lot of us rejoice in this season, celebrating our traditions, beliefs, family and friends, it is not like that for everyone. So if you know someone who struggles this time of year, below are some tips to help them cope.
- Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable.
- Try to set realistic goals for yourself.
- Pace yourself.
- Organize your time.
- Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
- Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
- Do not put entire focus on just one day (i.e., Christmas Day) remember it is a season of holiday sentiment and activities can be spread out (time-wise) to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
- Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
- Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different
- and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
- Do something for someone else.
- Try volunteering some time to help others.
- Enjoy activities that are free, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations; going window shopping without buying; making a snowperson with children.
The holiday season is a time full of joy, cheer, parties, and family gatherings. However, for many people, it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures, and anxiety about an uncertain future. Many factors can cause the “holiday blues”: stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends.
The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions, and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension. People who do not become depressed may develop other stress responses, such as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping.
Even more people experience post-holiday let down after January 1. This can result from disappointments during the preceding months compounded with the excess fatigue and stress. Studies show that some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which results from fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter during the winter months.
Phototherapy, a treatment involving a few hours of exposure to intense light, is effective in relieving depressive symptoms in patients with SAD.
Other coping mechanisms:
- Try something new.
- Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
- Spend time with supportive and caring people.
- Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you have not heard from for awhile.
- Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share responsibility of activities.