The holiday period can be very overwhelming. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people most experience a rise in depression. There are a range of situations that can trigger this response – unrealistic expectations, excessive consumerism and forced cheer are just a few reasons cited in an article by Psychology Today.
However, with a bit of foresight and planning, holiday overwhelm can be avoided and you can fully relax and enjoy the festive season. We’ve compiled our top tips to avoiding emotional triggers during the coming holidays.
Identify what it is that is getting you down
Whether you’re feeling stressed about money, spending time with your extended family, or are feeling a bit lonely, Christmas can stir a range of emotions that can be hard to deal with. By understanding exactly what is making you feel down, you can put strategies in place to deal with it and avoid a pile up of emotions.
Start by taking some time out for yourself to just sit and be with your thoughts. This will help you to fully understand where the root of the issue is. Once identified, deal with it directly. If the ‘same old thing’ gets you down, avoid doing the same old thing!
Set realistic expectations
Don’t expect miracles. Keep your expectations of yourself and others realistic to avoid feeling like you’ve failed or let someone, or yourself, down. This is an opportunity to be truly kind to yourself.
Don’t worry about how things should or shouldn’t be or what you should or shouldn’t do, but do what you can do and what you want to do. Try to involve others in the whole process so you don’t feel like the weight of responsibility is all on you. Remember that ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘done’ and it’s not up to you to make everyone’s Christmas amazing. You may actually find you bond more with those around you when you harbour a sense that you’re all in it together.
Find some time to figure out how to take care of yourself during this busy period and set aside dedicated ‘me time’. This is important, as it will also help you with point one – identifying the root of your emotions so you can do something about it.
If the holidays make you feel out of control, take control over the holidays by taking timeouts for yourself. Come up with restorative routines such as reading a book or napping and focus on having self-compassion during these times. Whatever it is that you feel like doing will help get you through the holidays and keep you feeling calm and happy, just make time for it.
Set a realistic budget and stick to it
It is very common for people to overspend during the Christmas period, which can cause significant stress as well as issues with debt further down the line. Be realistic about what you can afford – Christmas won’t be more magical if you throw money you don’t have at it, so be creative with your spending.
If your budget is low, try making gifts for people. This could also help give you a creative outlet, which will in-turn lift your spirits and make you feel more in control.
Minimise over indulgence
When we feel stressed, it’s not uncommon for us to reach for the booze and food. This can be especially true when there is so much opportunity for overindulgence such as there is during the holidays. Overindulging will not actually make you feel better, actually quite the opposite. Instead create a realistic exercising regime and minimise the amount you eat and drink during this time.
Alcohol/drug use often rises during holiday periods, ironically in part to cope with the stress of holidays; for individuals in recovery, relapse rates often rise. Be aware of your triggers and put preventative measures in place before they arise.