Coping techniques to get you through the holidays
The holidays are a barrel of fun for some people but for others it’s very stressful. For those who suffer depression, the holidays can make matters worse.
The first step is to make a plan to take care of yourself. Block off time to rest and relax. Schedule some exercise and fresh air time. And don’t forget the importance of sleep.
Cut back on commitments if you have to so you can find some personal time. Plan to visit another time and be selective about the most satisfying commitments. People do understand how busy the holidays can be; prioritize your health among your commitments.
Be aware of how you are eating and drinking. Your food choices can impact your mood. When you eat fats and sweets, you’ll have less energy, which can make you feel more stressed and run down. Alcohol can intensify your emotions and make you feel worse when its effects wear off.
Give up on perfection. Nobody’s holidays are perfect; there are too many people and factors involved in most cases – many that are completely beyond your control. Trying to control everything, especially those things outside of your control, can be overwhelming and quite exhausting.
Families will be families, full of different people with different opinions. Avoid old family conflicts. If they come up, suggest it get discussed another time and when the opportunity arises, move to another room to visit with others or help in an activity.
Many families have members who seem to always be critical. Take the criticisms with a grain of salt (reread the paragraph above about giving up on perfection), thank them for their input then move on. It’s so much easier to criticize than actually do – keep that in mind.
Don’t isolate yourself if you don’t have family to hang out with during the holidays. Whatever the reason you’re on your own – divorce, never married, death of a spouse, live in a new place - get out and volunteer with one of the many organizations that support people during the holidays or tap into friends who are in the same position and create some new memories.
It’s okay to be sad over someone close to you who has passed away. It’s natural to miss them during the holidays. Don’t try to keep the sadness inside. It can be helpful to talk about missing them, celebrate how they impacted your life with a good story or a gift to a charity.
Finances have a way of spoiling holidays. When you can’t afford to celebrate, it can be emotional. Be honest with your friends and family – there’s no shame in it. If you’re worried about buying gifts, create something personal or be frank that you just can’t afford to buy something for everyone.
Be willing to ask for help. Whether it’s help in the kitchen, digging out from a snowfall or talking to a friend or support group when the holidays get to be too much, a good healthy choice is to know we humans thrive in a community – helping and supporting each other.
It’s not a negative action to ask for help. Ever.
If you feel things spiraling into thoughts of harming yourself, contact a crisis centre (you can find a list of crisis centres here or access the new Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) via phone (1-833-456-4566), text (45645) or chat