It may have hit you like a snowball in the back of the head, but December has arrived and Christmas is nearly here. The risk exists that stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. However, being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help to ward off related risks and potential mental health related problems.
Truthfully, it’s no wonder the holiday season brings unwelcome guests—such as stress and depression—with the dizzying array of expectations, demands, parties, shopping, baking and cleaning to name just a few.
With some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. When stress is at its peak, it is hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.
1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It is OK to take time to cry or express your feelings.
2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
3. Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect. 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.
4. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Try these alternatives: donate to a charity in someone's name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.
5. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That will help prevent last minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients.
6. 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.
7. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
8. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call the following numbers for assistance: OVER THE AGE OF 18: 1-888-379-7699 or UNDER THE AGE OF 18: 1-866-403-5459.
To access mental health services in your area, call 1-866-403-5459 (under the age of 18) or 1-855-222-6011 to be connected with the service provider nearest you.
For more information visit:
Calm In the Storm (website and free App)
Manitoba Farm, Rural & Northern Support Services (telephone and on-line counselling)