For some people, the holiday season is a joyous time while being around family and loved ones. For others, it can be a stressful and depressing time. These feelings of anxiety and depression are a phenomenon known as the ‘holiday blues.’ In a survey by the American Psychological Association, a majority of people reported feeling happy and loved along with feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and sadness during the holiday season. Approximately thirty-eight percent of people reported increased stress levels over the holiday due to time constraints, finances, family gatherings and the pressures associated with giving gifts. Traveling also contributes to the heightened stress levels during this time.
In most cases, these holiday blues are temporary and often leave after the season. However, it is still important to take these symptoms seriously and find ways to reduce these feelings of anxiety and sorrow. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce or even avoid this stress and depression.
- Plan ahead and prioritize your time. Knowing what lies ahead and what are the most important activities to do with the family can reduce the stress from feeling constrained on time.
- Set realistic expectations and pace yourself. Booking too many activities during this time can increase the stress within the family and leaving everyone feeling exhausted.
- Keep your regular schedule. Even though you may be away from home does not mean you need to step away from what you do normally. Continue with your daily routines in order to make these times feel less strenuous and foreign. Do whatever makes you feel more comfortable.
- Keep track of holiday spending and find free or low-cost activities to do with the family. Budgeting money by setting limits on the prices of gifts or bundling one gift for each family can help reduce stress associated with finances. Finding free activities and gatherings around can also help save money.
- Make someone a gift. Often, using your talents to make someone a unique gift can often be cheaper and even feel more meaningful for the other reducing the pressures of gift giving.
- Reconnect with old friends. Holidays may be a time when we visit our childhood homes. Reconnecting and talking with people we used to be friends with may reduce a sense of loneliness and sadness. This can also help with the stress of constantly being around the family.
- Take time for yourself. Being around many people, even those that are close to you, can be overwhelming and exhausting. Make sure to give yourself time to relax and rejuvenate without others around to reduce that stress.
- Enjoy the present and have fun. Interact and live in the moment without trying to compare this holiday season with the last. Thinking about differences this year was to the past can increase symptoms of depression. Each year is different as people grow and change. Appreciate what you have now.
These are a few suggestions to help you feel more at ease during what may be a stressful time. Feel free to implement your own techniques that help you handle the holidays. Ending the new year stress-free and happy is a great way to start the new year!
As a Commitment to Campus partner, the Center for Family and Couple Therapy (CFCT) is an additional resource to you during the holidays – and all year long. To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained therapists, please call the CFCT at 970-491-5991. The CFCT is located in the Gifford Building and provides complimentary parking for clients.
Joshua Bigner grew up in the mountainous small town of Livingston, MT. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology with the intention of becoming a therapist. Joshua’s therapy interests include working with children and families, specializing with those families and children who come from traumatic histories or teenagers living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Growing up in the mountains of Montana, Joshua enjoys several outdoor activities including hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, and snowboarding. Along with the great outdoors, he enjoys performing, traveling, playing video games, going to the gym, and hanging out with his family and friends.
The Center for Family and Couple Therapy (CFCT) is a part of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in CSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. As a commitment to campus partners, the CFCT welcomes the opportunity to support you and your family in increasing mindfulness and effective self-care in your lives. Please call 970-491-5991 or visit our website for more information.