If you’re one of the 16.1 million adults who suffer from depression, the holidays may bring on additional anxieties and stress that could trigger your depression.
When stress is at its peak, the best thing you can do is stop and regroup to prevent stress or a depressive cycle from taking away from your holiday.
Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression:
- Acknowledge your feelings. The holidays bring on a variety of feelings – not all of which are joyful. If you recently experienced a loss, remind yourself it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s okay to cry and express your feelings as such expressions can often bring a sense of relief.
- Ask for help. If you feel lonely or isolated, ask for help from family, friends or members of your community. Lean on your support groups for support, companionship and reminders that you are not alone.
- Be mindful of alcohol consumption. While alcohol often takes center stage at holiday parties, remind yourself that you do not have to drink alcohol at every event. Alcohol feels like it reduces stress at the time, but it’s a depressant that impairs and slows your physical and psychological activity.
- Manage your expectations. Between social media and holiday movies on repeat, the pressure to create picture-perfect holidays can lead to anxiety, stress and even depression. Before celebrations begin, choose a few things that matter most to you during the holidays – like enjoying an intimate dinner with loved ones – and focus your energy on those things instead trying to juggle too much at once.
- Take time for yourself. Spending just 15 to 20 minutes alone, without distractions, can relax your mind and help you feel more focused to tackle your holiday to-do list. Walking outside for fresh air, listening to soothing music or a guided meditation, reading a book or practicing yoga, are all great ways to reduce stress and clear your mind.
Stress causes a number of both short-term and long-term adverse effects on the body, and it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It’s important that we monitor our stress levels, particularly during the holidays, and find ways to manage our stress.
Noel Pupp is a family medicine nurse practitioner with Ascension Medical Group at Schofield. For more information, call 715-847-6600 or visit ascension.org/wisconsin.