Your Mind

The holidays can either be a massive stress or a source of joy.

It’s a time of togetherness and celebration, an opportunity to be with family and friends that might not be possible under everyday circumstances. But the holidays also bring with it hectic work and personal schedules, societal pressures and financial burdens that can lead to anxiety and stress.

Whether you have a pre-existing mood disorder or have no prior symptoms, you, too, could be negatively affected this holiday season.

“There’s this culmination of factors that can result in depression, stress during the holidays,” marriage and family therapist Charree Kashwer said.

What to Watch For

According to Kashwer, people who experience depression, anxiety or those who are going through grief issues are hit the hardest in the holidays. She warns that people who are struggling with dependency issues should be aware that they are also at-risk for relapse because of the added stresses.

“There’s this culmination of factors that can result in depression, stress during the holidays,” she said.

Self-Care & Prevention

“Families can be sources of support but also can be sources of stress, often magnified during the holidays,” said Kashwer.

After a family loss, people must cope and that is especially hard during the first holidays without their loved ones.

“We have more financial and time demands. We have more events, parties and traveling. It’s important to stick with your general routines,” Kashwer said.

She said regular sleep, exercise, not overeating or overdrinking are great preventions for those who have pre-existing mood disorders. Alcohol itself is a depressant, so Kashwer warns to limit consumption.

“Keep a balance and make sure that you find time for self-care,” she said.

Shopping

Keeping to a budget is crucial.

“Sticking with that and not wanting to one-up the Joneses (is important),” Kashwer said. “The lines and the crowds can cause stress, so online shopping is a way to assist with that.”

Homemade gifts can also help.

“Reduce the pressure on the perfect gift – the perfect wrapping paper, the perfect tree,” she said.

Social Media: Good or Bad?

Social media can be a trigger during the holidays as well. Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and other social media can be either a source of pain or self-worth.

“If social media makes you feel worse, then that’s a part you should limit,” Kashwer said. “But if it makes you feel better, then that might be a great source of support.”

Kashwer clarified that knowing your own feelings about social media comparisons will allow you to decide whether it helps or hurts.

Reflect During the Holidays

“For me, the holidays are about celebration of family, the Lord and really being thankful for everything I have in my life,” said Kashwer. “Self-reflection of the past year and the coming year is beneficial.” 

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