When the Holidays are Anything but Merry and Bright
Nothing says “holiday season” like Christmas music on the radio, meeting up with close friends and family, and eating all of your favorite foods (healthy eating is for January, right?). On the other hand, nothing says “holiday season” like arguing with your family about politics, maxing out your credit card to buy everyone the perfect gift, and feeling stretched so thin you think you might snap.
Needless to say, the holidays can be an emotional rollercoaster, which is probably why the media came up with the ever-popular saying, “Suicides spike around the holidays.”
We’ve got good news: this is a myth. In fact, suicide rates are at their lowest in December, and perpetuating anything to the contrary is both confusing and dangerous. However, that doesn’t mean the holidays are all merry and bright for everyone.
The Holiday Blues
The “holiday blues” has become a popular phrase to refer to the temporary increase in anxiety and/or depression people often feel in November and December. This anxiety and depression can be the result of many different factors, including the mourning of lost loved ones, family tension, the demands of entertaining, financial burden due to travel and gifts, eating unhealthy food, and drinking too much alcohol — just to name a few.
Prevent Holiday Stress & Depression
One of the most important things you can do to beat the holiday blues is to acknowledge your feelings. Recognize that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by your family or sad because you’re missing someone. By opening up about your emotions to a professional counselor or a trustworthy friend, you can get closer to discovering practical ways to help relieve your anxiety and depression.
Another simple way to manage negative emotions around the holidays is to practice mindfulness. Excessive food and alcohol, paired with less sunlight and less exercise, can take a major toll on your mental health. In light of this, committing to some simple healthy rituals — sleeping eight hours each night, eating a healthy snack before a holiday party, walking outside whenever there’s sunlight, drinking alcohol in moderation — can help balance your emotions and get you back on track.
Last but certainly not least, in order to avoid the holiday blues, don’t forget to set realistic expectations this holiday season. How many family/friend gatherings can you make it to without feeling rushed? Are you able to host people this year without it affecting your mental health? How much can you spend on gifts while still maintaining financial peace? Try to plan ahead whenever possible, both time-wise and money-wise. And don’t be afraid to say “no” when you have to; your mental health can and should be a priority.
By following these tips, plus any other guidelines you think would help you, you should be well on your way to a holiday season that’s at least a little more enjoyable.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Torrch!
(NOTE: If your anxiety and/or depression symptoms persist beyond the holiday season, that may be a sign of a more serious condition. We encourage you to seek the help of a counselor as soon as possible in order to find a treatment plan that’s best for you.)