There is no doubt that the holidays can be stressful, especially this holiday season. The way we live our lives has changed and it is affecting the holidays in dramatic ways.
For the first time in our lives, we may be limited as to whom we can spend our holidays with, and our yearly anticipated social events may even have to be cancelled. In some, the pandemic may have created feelings of sadness and anger that can be intensified with the normal holiday pressures of shopping and debt, leading to anxiety and depression.
Help is available if you find yourself, family or friends struggling this holiday season.
The first step is to recognize some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Signs of anxiety may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating; finding it difficult to keep your mind from wandering back to the matters we are worried about
- Dreading or avoiding events that we usually look forward to
Signs of depression may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Feeling as if we are a burden on our family or friends; wondering if others would be better off without us
- Thinking about ending our lives
- Appetite or weight changes
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Anger or irritability
- Loss of energy
- Disliking ourselves intensely; blaming and criticizing ourselves over various things
- Reckless behavior
- Concentration problems
- Unexplained aches and pains
If you, family members or friends are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you are encouraged to speak with your physician, psychiatrist or licensed counselor. These individuals are trained to help people work through their anxiety and depression and many may even offer telehealth services so the session can be done from the comfort of your own home.
If you, a family member or friend are thinking about suicide, call 911 right away or go immediately to your nearest hospital emergency department. If you are in need of a physician, click here.
Below are some additional tips that may help to keep your holidays focused on love, happiness and appreciation.
1. Schedule family time through Zoom, Go to Meeting, Face Time, or other meeting software. Just seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those that can’t be physically close, can make a world of difference you are doing an electronic family gathering, schedule holiday dinners at the same time, helping to give the effect that everyone is together.
2. If you are doing an electronic family gathering, schedule dinners at the same time, helping to give the effect that everyone is together.
3. If you are able, have gatherings outdoors with masks and proper social distancing.
4. Try baking or crafting and leave that batch of cookies or homemade ornament on a neighbor’s doorstep, brightening not only their day, but your day as well.
5. Exercise always helps to boost endorphins, lifting your spirits.
6. If you can go outdoors, walking in nature helps to relieve stress.
7. Have a heart-to-heart with a friend or trusted family member.
8. Limit your alcohol intake – more is not necessarily better. Be aware of any health and safety risks of drinking while you are taking medications. Check with your prescribing clinician to be sure.
9. Stick within your normal routine as much as you can.
10. Get plenty of sleep!
11. Set a realistic budget and then stick to it.
12. Set realistic goals and expectations, on yourself as well as others.
13. Do not label the season as a time to cure past problems.
14. Be aware of how you speak to yourself. It can help a lot to replace harsh commentary with something more understanding and kind.
Again, it is important to seek help if you feel you need it, or if your symptoms persist for longer than two weeks. Contact your physician, a psychiatrist or a licensed counselor.