The holidays are widely known to bring feelings of excitement and joy. Getting to spend time with family and just quality time with loved ones in general. What isn’t so commonly spoke about, are those struggling with managing anxiety and depression during the holidays.
We want to help break that stigma and help discuss several points that those struggling with managing their anxiety and depression may benefit from. It may even help the loved ones of those struggling provide support to them when they need it.
Anxiety and Depression Triggers During the Holidays
For those struggling with managing their anxiety and depression during the holidays, even just the thought of going to be around family can become daunting. Triggering a negative mental health episode and creating more severe symptoms.
Sometimes that trigger can be little as walking into a room full of people they know and love. The thought of having to make conversations while they’re struggling internally can be crippling for them.
Situations such as these may seem small to some, but for those struggling with anxiety and depression their symptoms can likely intensify.
Events that may trigger anxiety and depression during the holidays include:
- Entering a crowd of people you know.
- Work parties/holiday gatherings with peers.
- Exchanging gifts with others.
- Traveling out and away from their home.
- Being around a large amount of family.
All of these things and more could possibly increase feelings of anxiety and depression in those already struggling.
Anxiety and Holiday Parties
Those who don’t already struggle with anxiety don’t tend to recognize small situations that may terrify those who do suffer with it.
Since large get-togethers and parties are the norm during the holidays, knowing a few factors that may help those with anxiety is important.
A common stressor that inflicts terrifying feelings for those with anxiety disorders, specifically social anxiety disorder.
Those with social anxiety typically try to completely avoid social functions, but letting them completely avoid public gatherings may only hinder their chance of relieving anxiety around it.
Encouraging those struggling with anxiety during the holidays to overcome certain limitations, without overstepping their comfort is sometimes difficult.
Holiday Spirit and Depression
Conventionally the holiday season revolves around cheer, holiday spirit and gift giving.
It’s important to consider those struggling with mental health issues, such as depression, may have a different outlook on the holidays.
If you’re struggling with depression, or anxiety for that matter, the time and traditions around the season may escalate your symptoms. Increasing the feelings of depression, or anxiousness.
That being said, what are some helpful tips to manage these feelings of depression and anxiety during the holidays?
Manage Holiday Stress
You can reduce some of your holiday induced stress by using the following some tips provided by New Roads.
1. Don’t Put Pressure on Yourself
Setting expectations too highly for yourself and your loved ones during the holidays will more likely overcome you with stress and anxiety.
Setting the expectations instead that things don’t always go as planned and that it’s okay may ease some of those feelings.
People are never paying as much attention to your actions/feelings as you are led to believe. Even more so while they’re all stressing about their own holiday things and catching up with all other family members.
You may think people are observing your actions and thinking about you, but they’re most likely thinking the same as you. Wondering what others think of them.
Try nice gestures, such as:
- Giving someone a compliment.
- Asking someone about their life.
- Asking someone about something they love.
Doing these things to take the focus off anxious thoughts and engaging someone in a conversation that makes them also feel good and less anxious is a great way to overcome thoughts of stress and anxiousness.
Not only that, but making others feel good always makes you feel great in return.
2. Get to the Bottom of Your Triggers
What is it that drives your feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays?
Maybe you think others are dissecting your words, or that you might embarrass yourself by saying something wrong.
It’s important to remind yourself that social situations can indeed feel uncomfortable, but what’s really the worst thing that could happen?
Anxiety is often a lot to do with your mindset and figuring out what makes you feel anxious can become a relief. Once you find your triggers, logically work through them and maybe you’ll feel better!
3. Don’t Turn to Substances for Relief
Those who struggle with depression and anxiety during the holidays, sadly sometimes turn to substances for temporary relief.
We strongly advise against this and even though it’s tempting to relieve social stress, alcohol and drugs can worsen symptoms in the long run.
Possibly even triggering panic episodes, or anxiety attacks. Alcohol and drugs aren’t the answer to working through mental disorders.
4. It’s Okay to Set Boundaries
Overscheduling yourself during the holiday season is a set up for stress and overwhelming feelings.
Try not to overextend your mental capacity and make sure you’re still taking time for yourself. Especially if you’re suffering from mental disorders.
It’s perfectly okay to opt out of occasions when needed and tell loved ones no. If you need to stay home and recharge, do exactly that. Don’t let guilt pressure you into overexerting yourself.
Eliminating the chances of being overbooked and stressed will lower the chances of triggering anxiety, or stress.
Ease the Stress of Travel
Traveling during the busy holiday season can be a huge trigger for anxiety. Being in overcrowded travel hubs such as:
- Train Stations
- Shopping Malls. Etc
Can easily become a trigger for those who get social anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder can cause worry and unprecedented stress for individuals traveling. Causing dread and anxious anticipation pre-travel.
It’s important to remember that avoiding travel completely because of anxiety is not healthy. That’s only ignoring the issue, instead of addressing it.
Following are some tips to help reduce any future anxiety:
1. Have all Details Pre-Planned
Decreasing travel stress can be attempted in many different ways. Such as having all of your plans set in place and at times that best suit you.
Such as an earlier flight that shows a less crowded airport and any other things that may help ease your feelings of anxiousness.
Always pre-confirm things such as:
- Car Rentals
Give yourself extra time to pack before any trips planned, that way you don’t have to stress about forgetting anything. Ensure you have all essential items needed for your trip.
2. Always Plan Ahead
Pre planning a list of activities and events that will take place while you’re traveling is another great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
Preparing for any possible anxiety inducing situations by pre-strategizing is a great idea!
Such as slow, deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.
By planning this, you’ll always be better off for possible situations of anxiety and have a pre set plan on how to address each situation. Therefore helping those managing anxiety and depression during the holidays.
3. Actively Reduce Your Anxiety
If you’re traveling during the holidays, having a plan set in place to actively reduce your anxiety triggers is also important.
Say you have an extreme fear of flying: it’s a good idea to tell the flight attendant, or gate attendant as you’re checking in. Ask to meet with the other staff and personally connect with them.
By getting to know these workers and see them as peers, you can help comfort yourself and create a safe space.
Maybe you’re claustrophobic: having an aisle seat, or a quick exit access is smart. That way you can get up when needed and move around during the flight. As well as the anxiety of getting up in front of other passengers to use the restroom, you can lessen that by being on the outside seat.
Aisle seats give you quick access to a safe space where you can calm yourself and any possible anxiety attacks. Not having to squeeze past passengers won’t be an added stress.
Helping Loved Ones Manage Anxiety and Depression
If it’s you, or even loved ones suffering to manage their anxiety or depression during the holidays, New Roads Behavioral Health is here for you.
We know that the holiday season and extra time around extended family and loved ones can be stressful. We want to ensure that anyone struggling has a plan set in place to reduce feelings of depression or anxiety.
If you, or a loved one need help this holiday season, don’t hesitate to contact us.