Posted on November 19, 2019
While the holiday celebrations are a time to drink and be merry, they can just as easily be a hotbed for stress, anxiety, and depression. Whether it be overindulging in holiday treats at family gatherings and holiday parties that do not make us feel good physically, trying to find ways to afford all the gifts, or packing the calendar with no downtime for a good nights’ sleep. Even unrealistic, romanticized expectations can all contribute to increased stress levels in December.
As a therapist matching service, we care about your mental health which is why we’ve compiled our top tips on how to reduce holiday stress and post-holiday depression during a heightened emotional time of the year.
Being generous is a great mood booster, and it doesn’t need to be through expensive holiday shopping. Shifting your attitude to one that’s more giving and forgiving will help you deal with stressful situations with family and at work. It can be as simple as intentional, meaningful compliments, or offering an act of service to a loved one. Cards with meaningful notes of appreciation go a long way in the heartfelt department and are easy ways to reduce your holiday spend. If you find yourself in the middle of December chaos wondering how to reduce holiday stress, and stay mentally healthy during the holidays, think of one small way you can be generous that day.
It sounds a little fluffy, but try reaching for a pair of metaphorical rose-colored glasses during stressful situations. When friends and family try to push their anxiety and emotions onto you during the holiday season, tune into their motivations. Your mother isn’t trying to guilt-trip you into visiting longer; she misses you and wants you to feel loved. Rather than view your situation with annoyance, choose grace instead. When it comes to family in particular, learning how to reduce holiday stress isn’t easy, so be kind to yourself too! Your health and well-being should be your top priority, so cut yourself a break when things don’t turn out as you imagined. Turn the dial down on the number of activities you commit to and the pressure you put on yourself to have a perfect holiday season.
Spend time breathing. No, really. If you’re thinking about how to reduce holiday stress, focus on your breath. It may seem silly, but taking time to take deep breaths is one of our top tips to reduce holiday stress. Do it right after you wake up, but before you get out of bed for the day. Pause on checking your email and take several deep breaths, meditate, or visualize a happy image in your mind. Keep anxiety and stress levels in check throughout the day by stopping whatever you’re doing to take five minutes to close your eyes and breathe. Conscious, slow breathing can help you when you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Meditation apps are a great way to practice self-care by keeping you focused and accountable for your breathwork.
If you’re already being treated for stress and anxiety, try not to disrupt your medication or talk therapy schedule. Ask your therapist if they are open to phone or video calls while you’re away. If holiday stress is starting to become more than you can manage, contact us to help you find the perfect mental health professional.
The holidays can be stressful, but if you adopt the right attitude, set the right holiday expectations, and reach out for help when you start to notice signs of stress and depression, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the season and avoid feeling stressed.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.