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Holiday Stress, Recognize Your Risk For Holiday Depression

The holiday season is supposed to be joyful and care-free…right? Well, this is certainly a hope. However, for many, this time of year can be stressful and even depressing. Here are a few common sources of stress and depression this time of year.

Busy Schedules: Getting out of the normal routine is an often enjoyable change of pace, but with an increase in social events and travel, we are more likely to eat worse, sleep less, and drink more. Changes in healthy habits can make us feel worn out. Be sure to reserve plenty of time to relax, exercise, and care for yourself. Do not feel obligated to accept every social invitation. You can always arrange to see people during a less busy time of year. Also, certain traditions that cause more stress than joy can be eliminated or changed.

Fewer Daylight Hours: From the fall to early spring, some people experience Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is related to a decrease in sunlight. Symptoms include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability, overeating, and sadness. Help for SAD can include phototherapy (regular exposure to special types of light), medication, and counseling.

Spending More Money: It is easy for us to spend what is beyond our financial means this time of year, leading to the potential for increased debt, financial stress, and arguments among spouses. When it comes to purchasing gifts, consider setting reasonable spending limits. Handmade gifts or “gifts of time” can be especially meaningful.

Unhappy Memories: When we reunite with relatives or return home for the holidays, it is very common to be reminded of the past. Sometimes painful childhood memories or reminders of losses emerge this time of year. If certain memories are bringing about particularly strong or uncomfortable feelings, it may be useful talk with a counselor or friend, or to write in a journal to gain a better understanding of the memory’s special meaning to you.

Isolation: The holiday season can feel very isolating, especially if you are not spending the holidays with family this year, or if you have recently experienced a break-up or loss. If you are feeling alone, reach out to others. You may find that you have friends in a similar situation. This time of year you can connect with new people by volunteering at a hospital, soup kitchen, or nursing home.

Maybe some of the above items resonate with you, or maybe you have something on your mind that was not mentioned. One good way to minimize holiday stress and depression is to become aware of what makes you especially vulnerable this time of year. This way you will be better able to take control of the situation. For more information go to here


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