SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — Feeling the “holiday blues” during the season? Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
A 2014 study by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that 24% of people with a diagnosed mental illness say the holidays make their conditions “a lot” worse, and 40% say “somewhat worse.”
However, even without a pre-existing mental condition, the holidays can be hard on many. According to a study by the American Psychiatric Association, 46% of adults were worried about affording gifts and 40% were worried about finding holiday gifts.
“For many people, the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year,” said NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth in an interview with NAMI.
How to manage stress during the holiday season
Allow yourself to have feelings
It seems counterintuitive to let yourself feel stressed when the very thing you don’t want to do is stress, but acknowledging your feelings will allow you to calm yourself more quickly. The reason? Stressing over stress will only run you down further. If you’re upset or anxious, sit with that feeling and try to recognize why you feel that way. Maybe there’s a particular reason you can pinpoint which can be avoided in the future. Maybe there’s not, and that’s okay too. What matters most is listening to your feelings rather than running away from them.
Don’t rely on drugs or alcohol
The last thing you want to do is recklessly indulge in something that may make you lose control of yourself or the situation. What’s more, alcohol is a natural depressant, so it may make you feel better now, but it’ll only exacerbate the bad feelings later. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 20% of people who suffer from a social anxiety disorder deal with substance abuse or dependence.
Be an early planner
Planning ahead will give you much-needed breathing room because it’ll ensure you don’t do everything all at the last minute. Plus, if you schedule things out, you can delegate tasks more efficiently and concisely, so you don’t have to be the one stuck with everything.
It’s okay to say ‘no’
The holidays are busy for everyone, and it’s important that you take time to relax. Often, we may feel that to celebrate the season, we have to give our everything, but you need to make sure you give a little time for yourself to relax. Others say “no,” so why can’t you?
The holidays come around once a year, but that doesn’t mean you have to dread them. Taking time for yourself and listening to your needs are both equally important. Because the last thing you or your loved ones want is you to be unhappy. So, listen to yourself. You’ll be glad you did.