It’s that time of year again when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us. In this season more people suffer from depressive episodes than at any other time, usually brought on by stress, anxiety, and sadness. With Thanksgiving just being a few weeks away, I will share with you some thoughts that can lessen your stress and improve your mental health.
For the last couple of years, I have had many challenges during this time of year. For one, my parents divorced and now they are remarried with separate families, my grandparents passed away and I was extremely close to them, my only child is now my prodigal waiting to come home, and I have been estranged from several family members because of addictions and mental health issues. Needless to say, the holidays can be stressful. Maybe you can relate. Have you suffered the loss of a loved one, recently been divorced, are you taking care of elderly parents, or maybe even a sick child?
Tips on how to stress-less this holiday season:
- Don’t try and keep up with everyone else’s spending and busyness. Do what you can do, and ask God what you should be involved in.
- Learn to say, “No.” Strike a balance with meeting needs of others and your needs. Set boundaries with difficult people. You don’t have to meet the demands of others. Do what is best for your family.
- Take care of yourself physically by exercising and getting rest when needed. Spiritually by spending daily time with God, and mentally by not complaining and speaking negative things over yourself and others.
- Be a blessing to someone else, or to several people.
- Pray for others who may be going through a difficult time, it can take your mind off your situation.
- Step away from all the craziness of the season and do something for yourself like, take a warm bubble bath or watch an old Christmas movie. Do something enjoyable.
- Start a gratitude list, and every day write out (5) things that you are thankful for. CHOOSE to focus on what you do have.
- Take it one day at a time. Do not project outcomes to situations before they happen.
- Let go of ALL guilt. Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Let go of expectations that you might have for others. Having unrealistic expectations for yourself and others can lead to disappointment and to depression.
- Start a new tradition for your family, such as taking communion and reading the Christmas story from the Bible.
- Focus on the reason for the season; it keeps things in perspective.
- Try and not reminisce of how things were before, this can lead to discontentment; instead focus on what is good in your life now.
- If you have suffered a loss or have gone through something tragic, be gentle on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others and what they are doing or what they have. This may mean getting off of Facebook and looking at everyone’s seemingly perfect life. This also may mean that you are not up to going to every Christmas program, party, or family event.
What can you add to this list? Will you join me and share your ideas, it could help someone else, and please pass this on to others who need encouragement.