How to Combat Holiday Stress

September marks the end of summer, the start of Fall, and, maybe most stressful, the month right before the holidays start. Before you know it, Halloween will come along, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s. While the holidays may be a time of great joy for you, it may also be a time of increased stress. What causes stress during the holidays? One of the biggest sources of stress during the holidays may be accommodating family; in one survey, accommodating the various diets of family members during meal time ranked as the most stressful element of holiday gatherings. Other sources of stress with family involved included avoiding political talk and finding the right present. Additionally, the financial burden and finding a flight or other travel plan may be a big source of stress for you, as well. Finally, 10% to 20% of people impacted by Major Depressive Disorder have Seasonal Depression. That’s 0.5% to 3% of the population. Encountering more depressive episodes during the holidays only adds to the stress of all your other responsibilities. What can you do to combat holiday stress? Here are three suggestions from Therapy Beyond Healing to help you mentally prepare for the holidays! Expect Things to Go Wrong This point may sound pessimistic, but stick with us. When we picture the holidays, we usually envision all travel plans going flawlessly, people loving every present, no family conflict, and smooth sailing all around. However, how many holidays have you had where every single detail went according to plan? Chances are, something has been out of whack - whether you and your brother bought the same gift for your child, the airport lost your luggage, or Grandma hates your Thanksgiving stuffing recipe, something has probably gone wrong in the past. Instead of picturing a Hallmark movie kind of holiday, anticipate and accept that something may go wrong. Normalize the imperfect holiday plan! Agree to a Budget with Family and Friends If you’re worried about finances or logistics of gift-giving, you’re not alone! One study by Forbes shows that 25% of people would prefer to opt out of gift-giving and receiving entirely during the holidays. To avoid the financial strain that buying a gift for multiple family members and friends tends to cause, agree to a budget with your loved ones. Setting a cap at a certain dollar amount per present - or better yet, agreeing to hand make all your presents or just share a meal together - can help undo the guesswork and pocketbook-emptying that comes with the holiday season. Chances are, your loved ones would appreciate a budget as well! Talk to a Therapist or Psychiatrist If your anxiety or sadness during the holidays exceeds what feels normal for the situation, you may be experiencing diagnosable anxiety or seasonal depression. For example, if family gatherings freak you out due to crowds and interaction, you may have social anxiety. If you feel especially tearful and unmotivated, you may be experiencing a depressive episode. It’s important to talk to a mental health therapist if you think your emotional state is above your current coping abilities. You may opt to talk to a psychiatrist if you’re looking for medication management. In a best case scenario, you may talk to both. We hope this blog gave you some tips about getting mentally ready for the holidays! If you want to talk some more about it, the clinicians at Therapy Beyond Healing are ready to help. Reach out to us today by emailing to set up an initial session with us. We look forward to hearing from you!