How to cope with holiday stress, seasonal depression
For many, the holiday season is a joyous and exciting time. But for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, engaged in family conflict or have experienced financial challenges, this usually merry season can bring sadness and pain.
While experts say stress and grief are normal reactions to difficult circumstances, coping strategies can help people manage their feelings and better enjoy the holiday season.
Monarch Medical Director Dr. Robert McHale said the stress of the holidays can not only dampen your celebrations, but can also affect your health. McHale said anxiety can occur for those who feel the burden to host the “perfect holiday party” or find that “perfect gift.”
Stress can also result for those who have experienced a significant loss, missing those who are no longer present for holiday celebrations and for people who are in conflict with loved ones.
McHale shared the following suggestions to help people get through the stress of the holiday season:
Take some time out for yourself. Whether you pamper yourself or simply slow your daily pace, lend some time to your own personal needs and try to relax.
- Eat a nutritious diet. Get some physical exercise and plenty of sleep. Also, avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
- Give yourself permission to express your emotions. If you feel an urge to cry, let the tears flow. Tears can be healing. Experts have found that certain brain chemicals in tears are natural pain relievers. Share the memories and the experience of your loss. Remember, there are no time limits on grief.
- Begin new traditions and discontinue other stress-filled holiday routines.
- Find activities that make you laugh. It is okay to laugh during difficult times.
- Give to others. Reinvest in others as a volunteer or commit to helping with activities or events that focus on others.