How To Battle Holiday-Related Stress And Depression

Douglas Cowan Psy.D., Counseling TehachapiAnxiety, Depression, Uncategorized

by guest author Jane Moore of

The holidays can be a stressful time for most of us, but for those who battle depression or seasonal mood disorders, this time of year can be devastating. Anxiety can creep in at any time, from shopping trips in busy, crowded stores to traffic jams on packed highways. It’s important to remember to practice self-care, but it’s also imperative to change your way of thinking a bit when the holidays roll around and it becomes harder and harder to de-stress.

“I think a lot of people would say that the holidays are the worst time of the year. They’re just straight up miserable, and that’s not only for people with clinical depression,” says Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

One of the easiest ways to reduce the chances of depression and stress is to watch your expectations. It’s easy to go into the holiday season with a rosy outlook that includes plans to spend the afternoons baking, shopping trips wherein you find the perfect gift for each family member, and time spent around the fire singing carols, but we all know it’s never that easy. It’s a good idea to plan well for your holiday so anxiety won’t be a problem, but don’t get too attached to your plans. Have a backup ready and tell yourself to take a deep breath and move on if it doesn’t work out.

Here are some of the best ways to avoid holiday burnout.

Get creative

If you’re stressed out thinking about how to fit all your family members in at the dinner table and when you’ll find time to hand-make those place cards, take a deep breath and open yourself up to trying something new. Sure, a beautiful table setting will always be appreciated, but if you have a long to-do list, chuck the handmade Pinterest projects in favor of something easier. Consider something more casual, such as a buffet, and throw some comfy pillows on the floor for extra seating in the living room. Don’t get too hung up on the details.

Form a support system

Have like-minded friends who feel down during the holidays? Start a closed group on a social media site like Facebook and give everyone a place to vent or ask for advice. Having a support system will be invaluable when you’re away from home or with family members who know how to push your buttons.

Give back

Giving back to your community can help you feel good about the holidays. Volunteer your time or services or donate items to the local homeless shelter. Many co-ed shelters are always in need of blankets, toiletries (including feminine hygiene products), socks, and winter clothing items. You can even put out the word to friends and family and collect these items, or get the names and ages of children in need from the local Salvation Army and buy them Christmas gifts.

Ask for help

For many people, taking on too many tasks around the holidays is a major source of stress and anxiety. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; delegate certain chores to your spouse or other loved ones, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to cut back on your to-do list. In the grand scheme of things, no one will remember or even notice if you don’t use the perfect wrapping paper.

Douglas Cowan Psy.D., Counseling TehachapiHow To Battle Holiday-Related Stress And Depression