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How to Survive the Holiday Season

During the holidays, people tend to experience heightened emotions. You may feel overcome by loneliness. You may become annoyed by meddling relatives or lose patience with your loved ones. In the present economy, you also may be worried about how you’ll be able to pay for gifts


In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays, which puts their health at risk.  


Unless you lean on effective relaxation, self-love techniques, & positive self-talk, your worries may trigger overeating or binging, overloading on alcohol, arguments with your loved ones, skipping regular exercise, not getting enough sleep, and neglecting your needs. Here are some of the most common reasons for heightened anxiety and depression during the holidays and what can help.



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1. I can't stand my family! 

This is the time of year when families feel compelled to come together in peaceful, loving harmony - whether they like it or not! If your family is truly unpleasant or unhealthy for you, know that you have the choice to decline spending time with them. If like most families, however, they are just mildly irritating, opinionated, or hypercritical, use this opportunity to practice your coping and communication skills.


WHAT CAN HELP:

  • Pick your battles—do you really want to argue about politics or ancient slights over turkey and stuffing with the whole family witnessing? Let it go for one day.

  • Walk away and take a break if that works best. If you need to sort through personal and ideological differences, find another time when you can discuss these things privately.

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2. I’m Lonely.

This time of year can bring on feelings of loneliness, especially if you are older and do not have a family of your own.


WHAT CAN HELP:

  • If you are far from family, try creative ways to connect with them like email, videos or Skype.

  • Attend a local holiday concert or community event. Find out if any co-workers may also be far from family or without holiday plans and have a potluck.

  • Consider spending your time giving to someone else in need. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or food pantry or distribute gifts to needy children. Helping someone else makes you feel good and can broaden your social relationships.


3. I Have Unhappy Memories.

Going home for the holidays naturally makes people remember old times and for some, the ‘old times’ weren’t the best memories. If you grew up in a neglectful or abusive household, you may associate the holidays with a bad time in your life.


WHAT CAN HELP:

  • Spend the holidays with non-toxic people

  • Be around friends who help you feel loved

  • Find an event in your neighborhood that gives back to the community and get involved

  • Find a community that makes you feel supported and accepted (church, synagogue, yoga studio, support group, etc)

  • Create new memories and new traditions



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4. How can I make it through the holidays after the death of a loved one?

This time of year can be very difficult for those who have experienced the death of a loved one. The first holiday season without that person can especially be an emotionally trying time. Memories that are stirred up by the festivities and the expectations to be jolly and full of holiday spirit, the season can mean slipping back into grief and depression for those still coping with loss. Familiar songs, once comforting, may catch in your throat or bring tears to your eyes. Gift-giving, once so filled with fun, may seem somehow empty and sad.


WHAT CAN HELP:

  • Find ways to remember

  • Give yourself permission to be sad & to say “no”

  • Decide how you want to spend the holiday, if at all

  • Create new traditions

  • Spend time with family

  • Spend time alone

  • Seek professional help if needed

  • The need for support may be the greatest during this time

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