A Word about Holiday Stress
A Word about Holiday Stress
Holidays can bring on a confusing array of emotions for anyone. We are out of our usual routines, and we frequently put undue stress on ourselves thinking that everything should be perfect. Thus, our expectations may be higher than usual, frequently of our own making. We are often with people (even family members) who we are not around very frequently. And when things do not go as we would like, we can be overly prone to unnecessary guilt and self-blame.
Depression and Anxiety
The holidays can magnify many of the circumstances that are normally difficult for people at other times of the year. For example, if you have anxiety about going to parties, you may be faced with the decision of how to handle various invitations. Whether you go or not, you will be challenging your ability to cope, and if you feel you have failed, depression may follow.
You may have to cope with loneliness, family tensions, and grief. If you are not prepared for these situations, you may easily become overwhelmed. It is always a good idea to recognize and remember the symptoms of depression and anxiety:
- Sleep Irregularities
- Lack of Interest
- Guilt or Worthlessness
- Lack of Energy and Enthusiasm
- Inability to Concentrate
- Appetite Irregularities
- Suicidal Ideation
Stress is your body’s reaction to change, both internal and external. For most people, the holidays involve a great deal of change.
Changes can be relatively minor: perhaps you have a lot of guests coming, and you’ll have to re-arrange various rooms in your house.
Other times, changes can be huge: maybe this is your first holiday without one of your parents or another special person in your life.
Each of these changes involves different coping skills, and you should deal with each separately.
Also, you should not underestimate the impact of those “little” changes. Stress can build up quickly, making you vulnerable to both physical and emotional difficulties.
Chronic stress can be a trigger for panic disorder. Self-awareness is key. You know right now that the next 4-6 weeks will be stressful. You can’t control everything that will happen, but you can learn how to cope with your reaction.
Since you cannot prevent change and therefore cannot prevent stress, you will want to familiarize yourself with some of the ways you can cope with stress.
Grief and Loss
You may find yourself grieving during the holidays for any number of reasons. We grieve if a loved one dies, but other major losses can cause grief as well. Family relationships can produce intense emotions.
Perhaps one of your children will be away during the holidays this year. Maybe there was a family conflict during the year, and you won’t be seeing certain relatives. Many situations like these can produce feelings of emptiness and loss.
Whatever the reasons for your grief, it’s important to learn about grief and how you can cope with the situation. Don’t underestimate the impact grief may have on you during a particular day. Reach out to family members and friends who may have experienced the same loss. Face it together.
Holidays can produce intense feelings of loneliness, particularly because so many of us have ideas of what the “perfect” holiday should be. It’s possible to feel lonely even with a group of people, particularly if that one special person is missing from the group.
Loneliness can hit hard, and you shouldn’t think yourself immune to such feelings. Also, loneliness is another emotion that feeds depression.
Remember, it is not necessary for you to suffer alone or in silence. Sharing your concerns, your stresses and your anxieties can be very therapeutic, whether you decide to share with a friend, family member or professional counselor. Sharing your burdens with another person can help you see options that may not have occurred to you.
On a Lighter Note
I hope you enjoy the following video about holiday stress: