The holiday season can be a magical time of the year. Festive lights and decorations brighten neighborhoods, special and delicious treats tempt our pallets, and the contagious excitement of children can fill us with a celebratory spirit. But for some, it may not always be the most wonderful time of the year. It can be a significant source of stress, anxiety and/or depression. I think everyone can agree this has been a challenging year but there is still hope. Here are some ways to help cope during this season and find some hope.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Realize that whatever it is you are feeling, it is valid and real to you. It’s okay to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
- Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect as there is no such thing as perfect. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children or other relatives can’t come to your home, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. Or meet virtually on a video call. Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can find ways to celebrate.
- Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, connecting with friends and other activities. Consider whether you can shop online for any of your items. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for meal prep and cleanup. This will help to better manage your stress.
- It is okay to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity.
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events or communities. Many may have websites, online support groups, social media sites or virtual events. They can offer support and companionship. If you’re feeling stress during the holidays, it also may help to talk to a friend or family member about your concerns. Try reaching out with a text, a call or a video chat.
- Volunteer your time to help others. Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. For example, consider dropping off a meal and dessert at a friend’s home during the holidays. This gives us a sense of purpose.
- Take a breather. Make some time for yourself to engage in self-care. Find an activity you enjoy. Take a break by yourself. Take a walk, read a book, go to a park and enjoy nature, practice yoga, listen to music, etc. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
- Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Even though this year has been challenging, there can always be hope. The new year brings hope, excitement and a new adventure. If you are struggling to find hope, please contact us to schedule an appointment at:
Cornerstone Centers for Wellbeing
Appointment & Information number: 1-866-280-WELL (9355)
All referrals and appointments are strictly confidential.
Peace and grace to you this holiday season,
Janelle Carbone-Rodriguez, LCSW