As the leaves turn and the temperatures cool, our thoughts turn to gifts and gatherings, to dinners and decking the halls. But if you struggle with anxiety or depression, your thoughts may be too overwhelmed by stress to appreciate the seasons.
Why do the holidays stress you out?
The first step in dealing with these anxious thoughts is pinpointing the cause(s), which is why we’ve compiled this list of 8 possible triggers for holiday stress. Let’s check it out.
- Unhappy memories: When you think of holidays past, are you overwhelmed by memories of old fights, tensions, or tragedies? That’s okay. Acknowledging unhappy memories is an important part of moving beyond them and managing the stress they cause.
- Toxic relatives: Being related doesn’t mean you get along. And those relatives you avoid all year long? You’ll most likely see them at the holidays. So how can you navigate holiday gatherings without succumbing to toxic relatives? The first step is mental preparation, either on your own or with a trained mental health expert.
- Major changes: Are the faces around your dinner table completely different than they were the year before? Or are you celebrating your holidays in a new location? If you struggle with depression or anxiety, the thought of any such major change can result in anticipation, worry, and stress.
- Too much of the same: Of course, too much of the same—especially if you’ve changed significantly over the course of the year—can cause growing pains even in those who aren’t coping with anxiety or depression. Before you head home for the holidays, take mental stock of the progress you’ve made. Keep this in mind as you celebrate with your family and friends.
- Lowered bodily defenses: We all know the holidays are not typically a time of healthful eating. Poor diet mixed with additional stress or anxiety can take a toll on your body’s immune system. Keep your immune system in fighting trim by having your yearly flu shot and attempting to stay active. Regular exercise can help release endorphins and manage symptoms of your depression or anxiety.
- Travel stress: Are you traveling home for the holidays? Arranging planes, trains, and automobiles can make anyone a little tense. Manage the potential stress by planning early and creating alternative travel plans as a backup.
- Time constraints: While receiving many invitations during the holidays may seem gratifying, feeling the need to attend all of them will only add stress to your holiday season. It’s okay to say no. Not every party or dinner can be top priority and there is always time outside of the holiday season to reconnect with friends and family. Choose the events that will fulfill you emotionally and move forward from there.
- Holiday expenses: Does your gift-giving list keep getting longer and longer? It’s wonderful to be surrounded by loved ones and to want to express your appreciation with gifts around the season, but that doesn’t mean risking debt or exacerbating your financial woes. Set a budget for yourself and stick to it as best you can. And remember, when it comes to giving, it truly is the thought that counts.
How can you manage stress during the holidays in Baton Rouge?
These 8 major triggers can cause undue stress during a time that should be filled with gratitude and joy. While it may be possible to manage your anxiety and depression symptoms on your own, don’t be afraid to reach out to a mental health expert for additional advice or counseling. The trained psychiatrists and counselors at Psychiatry Associates of Baton Rouge are here to help. Give us a call today.