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6 Tips for dealing with Holiday Anxiety and Depression

6 Tips for dealing with Holiday Anxiety and Depression

With our recent snowstorm, my ability to pretend winter isn’t a thing, has quickly evaporated.  On sunny days I get through the winter by making sure I spend plenty of time standing in front of my south facing windows soaking up the warmth that shines through.  On overcast days it can be more of a challenge.  Add in the stress of holiday shopping and parties and expectations, and winter can be a bit of a downer (to say the least).  Here are a few suggestions to help cope with winter blues:

1.  Name the beast
Much like Rumpelstiltskin, there is great power in naming something.  Often with difficult emotions, our first impulse is to avoid naming it, because we think it’s easier to not deal with it.  In reality, the opposite is true. If I feel hurt because a relative said something unkind, the act of admitting to myself that I’m hurting and that it’s okay for me to be hurting, allows me to feel compassion for myself.  Self compassion promotes healing.
2.  Soak up the sun where you can
If you are lucky enough to have big south facing windows, try to spend time sitting or standing in front of them when the sun is out.  Feel the warmth wash over you.  If you don’t have a south window handy, scout out local libraries for convenient spots to bask in the sun.  Use the time to practice a little mindfulness.  Get in a relaxing position, and take a mental inventory of how your body is feeling.  Notice the sensation of your hands in your lap, or your feet on the floor.  Notice your breathing.  If you get distracted, that’s okay, just gently bring your mind back to focus on your body sensations.  Spend ten minutes and evaluate how you feel afterward.
3.  Get moving
When the sky is gray and the world is icy, exercise doesn’t always sound like the most fun activity.  This is the time it’s extra import.  Not only does exercise help keep us physically healthy, but it can help keep us emotionally healthy as well.  Aim for 2.5 hours split up over the week, but don’t let a number make you feel worse.  The point is to get moving, so whether you brave the elements to go for a walk, join a gym, use an App, or an old VHS aerobics tape, find something you enjoy.  If motivation is a challenge, try scheduling it in your calendar or setting rewards for yourself (or get the audio version of the new book you’ve been wanting to read, and listen while you exercise!).
4. Spend time with friends and family
Not the ones you feel obligated to, but are stressed over.  I mean the ones you enjoy getting together with.  This is particularly important if you feel alone or isolated.  Reaching out to others, whether they are friends, family, neighbors, religious community members, or through volunteer work is a good way to gain a little extra support this time of year.
5.  Let go of expectations
Pressure to have the perfect holiday can wear us out emotionally.  It’s okay if the tree is a bit crooked (or if we opted for a potted plant with a bow) this year.  It’s okay if we didn’t get the cards in the mail.  Letting go of expectations can allow us to just enjoy what is. Sometimes a verbal reminder to ourselves can be useful, “It’s okay if it isn’t perfect”.  If some of your usual traditions aren’t working out, it’s okay to let them go, or find new ones to celebrate this year.
6.  Get professional help
If you’ve tried several of these things and are still feeling depressed or anxious, getting help from a professional is a great gift to give yourself this year. Call 801-944-4555 to schedule an appointment with a therapist at Wasatch Family Therapy.  There is hope.  Things can get better.

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