7 Ways to Survive This Holiday Season

Photo Credit:  Artyom Kulikov/Unsplash

The holidays are meant to be happy, but for those living with anxiety and depression, it can be one of the most challenging times of the year. Holiday gatherings, seeing old friends and family members, and changing routines can bring up negative memories or patterns that can aggravate our mental health. What can we do to stay well - and even enjoy - the season?

Here are seven ways you can destress and take care of yourself during the holidays.

1. Avoid comparing yourself to others

Sometimes we feel like our holiday should look like a Hallmark movie, complete with a perfectly decorated home, loads of presents under the tree, and a perfect family smiling around a holiday meal table. This can cause disappointment when things don’t live up to those expectations. Remember, your holiday can be whatever you need or want it to be, and no one has a perfect holiday or family.

2. Stick to a schedule

Having a regular daily routine is important to everyone, and especially those living with anxiety and/or depression. The holidays can throw this off, as you may be working irregular hours, out of school, or travelling constantly. Try to maintain a regular sleeping schedule, exercise when you normally do, and eat at your regular times.

3. Don’t be afraid to say no

No is a complete sentence, even during the holidays. When you are asked to attend another party, do a favor or purchase another gift, if you are not able to do it - say so! Maintaining boundaries and doing what you need to do to stay well is a great gift to give to yourself.

4. Keep in touch

Try to reach out to family and friends who make you feel appreciated and valued. If you plan on being alone this holiday, consider volunteering to help others who may be struggling this season, like seniors with few family members at nursing homes, at a soup kitchen, or an emergency shelter. You will be giving back to others and spending time with others, which is a win-win-win for everyone.

5. Avoid overdoing the food and drink

Temptation to indulge in chocolate, cookies and alcohol can be a big part of holiday celebrations. Sometimes at a family gathering with a challenging family member, stress eating cookies in the corner seems like a good idea, but may bring feelings of guilt and anger. Enjoy your favorite holiday treats in moderation.

6. Stay grounded and in the present

Returning to old places and seeing old friends and family can bring back painful memories, and sometimes old behaviors or thought patterns. If you find yourself being pulled into an old version of yourself, try taking a walk, petting an animal, talking to a supportive person or doing some deep breathing. These activities can help ground you and bring to back to the present moment.

7. Take care of you!

The holidays are often seen as a time to give gifts to others, but try to do something nice for yourself. Even on a limited budget, you can treat yourself to something special to eat, a small gift or just time alone to do whatever you want! You deserve to have a happy holiday and you are worth it!

Remember the holiday season comes and goes every year, and each year is a new opportunity to make it a peaceful and calming experience, whatever that looks like for you.

Take care and enjoy your holiday!