Tis the Season for stress and depression. It’s no wonder because the holiday season often brings un-welcomed guests like anxiety and extra emotional burdens. The demands for cooking meals, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, are just a few of extra activities on top of one’s full plate. Not to mention the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that is spreading in your community, you may be feeling additional stress, or you may be worrying about your and your loved ones’ health. Questions will arise like “Is he vaccinated or does he have underlying symptoms”. We can all keep safe without feeling anxious or stressed. Most people may also feel stressed, sad or anxious because their holiday plans may look different during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can minimize the stress from the holidays with some practical tips that may help you enjoy your holidays more than you though you would.

Great ideas to prevent holiday stress and depression

It’s hard to stop and regroup when stress is at its peak so the best solution is to avoid it in the first place. Watch out for these triggers of stress before it happens.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones for other reasons, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season. Let the grieving period happen but just make sure you surround yourself with supportive people who can help you through this period.
  2. Don’t isolate yourself. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events or communities. Many may have websites, online support groups, social media sites or virtual events. They can offer support and companionship.If you’re feeling stress during the holidays, it also may help to talk to a friend or family member about your concerns. Try reaching out with a text, a call or a video chat.Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. For example, consider dropping off a meal and dessert at a friend’s home during the holidays. It will brighten up their day and yours.
  3. Don’t try for perfection. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children or other relatives can’t come to your home, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. Or meet virtually on a video call. Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can find ways to celebrate.
  4. Try to resolve misunderstanding peacefully. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
  5. Stick to a budget. If you have a big family, it’s wise to start a family gift exchange so that everyone gets 1-2 gifts. It’s a giving season but let’s not overdue it. Before you do your gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.Try these alternatives:
    • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
    • Give homemade gifts.
    • Start a family gift exchange.
  6. Prepare in advance. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, connecting with friends and other activities. Consider whether you can shop online for any of your items. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for meal prep and cleanup.
  7. Don’t overstretch yourself. Learn to say NO. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  8. Keep up your healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.Try these suggestions:
    • Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
    • Sit close to healthy dishes at the table
    • If your the host, have togo boxes ready so your not left with all the food.
    • Eat healthy meals.
    • Go for a stroll and be mindful of your surroundings
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Include regular physical activity in your daily routine.
    • Try deep-breathing exercises, meditation or yoga.
    • Avoid excessive tobacco, alcohol and drug use.
  9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Find an activity you enjoy. Take a break by yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.Some options may include:
    • Go stargazing at night
    • Jump into the jacuzzi
    • Listening to soothing music
    • Reading a book
  10. Contact Saving Your Brain Center:  Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kelly Miller.

Manage your holidays better and recognize the triggers

Our best advice is whatever your plans are, take it easy and do only what you can manage. If it starts becoming stressful, you are doing too much. Make sure you wellness habits are top priority so be sure to sleep, breathe, eat healthy, and smile. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the

If you feeling that you need stress intervention now, here are some services at Saving Your Brain that is available to help you get through the holidays.