How Do Holidays Affect Mental Health
Have you been experiencing an overwhelming amount of stress and depression during the holidays? Thoughts may keep you up at night when you think about the budget of your holiday feast and presents. Maybe you are taking on more than you can handle in terms of responsibilities. Spending the holidays alone can leave you with depression where you are thinking of nothing but.
No matter what the reason is for your anxiety or depression, it is normal to experience these feelings. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 68% of people are financially strained, 66% have experienced have loneliness, 63% feel too much pressure, and 57% have unrealistic expectations. You are not alone in your thoughts. It is important to feel what comes naturally to you instead of forcing yourself to feel how you think you should feel.
Understanding how the holidays affect your mental health is the first step to treating it.
Not Feeling “Holiday Spirit”
You see it in the commercials and holiday specials where everyone is cheery with big smiles on their faces. Your friends and family are so excited about the holidays coming up, but you do not share the same happiness as them.
There is so much pressure to feel happy around the holidays while you naturally feel numb. If you are not feeling the same as your loved ones, you do not want people to think there is something wrong with you. Therefore, you stay silent about your feelings. Keeping your negative feelings inside, however, will make them grow worse over time.
Anxiety About Gift Giving
There is a lot of stress when it comes to holiday shopping. You could have a budget in your head to help you stay afloat, but you have to think about the number of people to give presents to and if you are exchanging gifts with your friends.
It can also be stressful thinking of the right gift to give to someone. Is it appropriate to send a gift card or do they prefer a physical gift? What could they possibly want that they do not have? It is these questions that can send you on a tailspin instead of finding the joy in gift-giving.
Low Sunlight Means Low Mood
Seasonal Affective Disorder is when you experience depression due to a lack of sunlight. The holidays tend to come around winter where there is little to no sunlight.
You know you have symptoms of seasonal affective disorder if you tend to be overeating, have problems sleeping, anxiety, and mood changes. If you are experiencing these symptoms only during the winter months with remission occurring during spring and summer, it may be time to expose yourself to more light through lightboxes or consider medication.
The holiday season is normally known for spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to do that.
You may have children who are spending the holidays with their own families. Your friends could be spending time with their spouses and their own kids. This can lead to feelings of depression if you are alone during the holidays with no one to feed, give presents to, or share happiness with.
The holidays can also be a trigger for some, especially if this is the first year without a love one. Your grief may feel compounded during family moments or while carrying out long-time traditions. Know that it’s common for grief to reappear and feel intense along with the holiday season, but it will subside again and you can always share loving memories.
What You Can Do
Luckily, anxiety and depression are treatable any time of the year. You have a right to experience joy and fun like everyone else is during the holidays. All it takes is not putting so much pressure on yourself to be happy and to take every moment one day at a time.
Plan in advance to set up a budget and a list of presents. Reach out to your friends and family whenever you are feeling down as they can pick you right back up. If you are still struggling with your mental health during the holidays, a mental health professional can help you feel more at ease during the holidays.