EDITORIAL: Options for dealing with holiday stress

Christmastime depression, anxiety can be helped in various ways

The holiday season can be a time of good cheer, with excitement over gift giving and spending time with family, the joy of attending seasonal events and the wonder of viewing colourfully decorated homes and public areas.

But not everyone has a rosy impression of the season. Many things can leave one feeling added stress, and at worst, depression.

Worries over money are common. Many of us place a lot of pressure on ourselves to find the right gifts for people, or feel like we’ve spent enough. Others worry that they simply won’t have enough to buy gifts for children or others.

In traditional and blended families, the pull can be strong to try pleasing everyone and scheduling a gathering time that works for all, regardless of how unrealistic it may be.

For people who lost a loved one during the year and are facing the first Christmas without them, grief can take a heavy toll.

The renowned Mayo Clinic has some suggestions aimed at people for whom Christmastime is a period of dread, either this year or in general.

People are reminded to acknowledge their feelings, whether those are sadness, anxiety, being overwhelmed, or others. Reaching out to friends or family members, maybe going out for coffee or lunch to talk things over, can be a good way to avoid feeling isolated or to prevent resentment from brewing inside.

Also keep in mind that change is inevitable as the years go by, and that the holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. Try out some new activities or building new traditions that reflect your current reality.

If you’re giving gifts, they suggest making an affordable budget and sticking to it. Homemade gifts can be just as special if not more so, and creating them can keep you busy. Just remember to plan ahead for such projects, especially if you need ingredients.

Learn to say no when you need to – listen to your body and your heart. You’ll have more positive energy when you need it.

And if you need to seek professional help to get through this time of year, there are plenty of individual or group counselling options on the West Shore. Finding ways to reduce holiday stress now can help to do so in future.