Holiday Stress

How to Overcome Emotional Distress During the Holidays

What’s supposed to be the merriest, most wonderful time of the year can, for many people, bring a season of anxiety, panic, distress, and emotional burnout. Sure, the current climate of economical instability and overbearing consumerism has a hand in this. But the larger problem here is that we don’t have any control over the financial state of the country and the emotional appeal of consumerism. And if there’s one thing depression feeds on more than anything else, it’s the inability to take action against that which is bothering us.

But we’re here to deal with depression, not give it more ammo. So what are some things that we can do? While the snowstorms swirl around outside, let’s emotionally put some wood on the fire and make ourselves some hot cocoa.

Keep It Small

Since things are starting to calm down in the world (kind of), it’s tempting to kick things back into high gear by inviting everyone over, making all of the meals, buying all the presents in one fell swoop, and making a real show of it in general. That’s great and all, unless you want to retain your sanity.

Like we mentioned before, depression feeds off of inability or anything that makes us feel unbalanced. Not to insinuate you can’t manage a big holiday, but if your to-do list is a mile long, that’s a prime source of helplessness. How in the world are you supposed to get to all of this in time, let alone at all?

Feeling in control is a great way to combat depression, and keeping it small is a fantastic way to do that. When you can see visible progress happening, and when you can knock items off the list in a relatively quick fashion, it feels good! So, maybe just invite a few friends over, keep expectations for presents low (however much it might hurt you to say so), or perhaps just spend a family holiday alone.

Take Some You Time

It may be the season of giving, but in order to give something, you have to have it in the first place. The same principle applies to energy. So if you find yourself waning, just wanting to take a nap more than anything in the world, it might be time to recharge.

If you’re hip on the new mental health trends, you might have heard the term “Spoon Theory” floating around. The basic idea is that we only have a limited number of “Spoons” to work with on any given day. “Spoons,” to clarify, are essentially units of energy. These units are expended either once a task is complete or when it’s depleted with time. Of course, some of us have bigger or smaller spoons than others, and some of us have more or fewer spoons. But the principle is always the same. If you run out of spoons… that’s that. Pushing yourself beyond your spoon limit might get a few more things done, but at the cost of… well, the rest of you. That energy has to come from somewhere, after all.

So if you’re running low on spoons, even if you feel like you’d be letting someone down, treat yourself to a quiet little sit-down by yourself. Do something you enjoy, like listening to music or reading a book. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a spoon back!

Take Some Friend Time, Too

Even for introverted types, human contact is good for one’s mental health in general. But, of course, to what extent it can be good depends on who you are. As mentioned with introverts, some are good after a few hours, and some need extended quality time.

It’s all about moderation at the end of the day. Know when you need people around you, and know when you don’t. You don’t have to be the greatest conversationalist in the world, either. Just as long as you’ve got other people with you and you know that they care about you.

As one last little note before we wrap this up: If things get rough out there, like really rough, don’t be afraid to ask for help, in whatever form that takes. We all need help sometimes, even those of us who’ve built up a reputation of being impervious to those sorts of things. But, at the end of the day, we’re all human, and it’s important to remember that when the pressure begins to mount.

But, when you can, allow yourself to enjoy these festive days. What’s the point of the Holidays if you aren’t having a good time, right?

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