The holidays offer plenty of reasons to be stressed out and nervous about the gifts you still need to buy, the presents you haven’t wrapped, the plethora of baking you need to do, Xmas cards, Office parties, etc.
But for many, the largest source of holiday stress is Family – the family dinner, the obligations, mainly just the burden of family traditions. Sometimes family relationships are complicated. But that’s doesn’t mean that the solution is to skip the holidays completely. Here are some common reasons the Holidays bring anxiety to many.
- Loss of a Loved One. If someone close to you passed away around the holidays, it can bring back painful memories that are hard to avoid, Focus on the happy memories and experiences you had with them.
- Ask yourself what about the holidays is it that gets you down. Once you identify specific problems, you can deal with them directly
- Unhappy memories of childhood.Going home for the holidays may naturally make people remember old times, but for you the memories may be more depressing. Childhood memories come back and you may be dwelling on what you felt was inadequate about your childhood.
- Toxic relatives. Holidays put you with relatives you avoid the rest of the year. Some relatives that know of your Depression may think it is all in your head
- What has changed since last year.The holidays can highlight everything that’s changed in your lives — a divorce, starting a new job, moving homes. Any of these can really unsettle a gathering and put in holiday stress.
- What has stayed the same. Sometimes the monotonous of family gatherings gets people stressed out –same thing every year, same jokes, same whatever that makes you stress.
With holiday family reunions coming up, what are some ways that you can prepare yourself and survive better this season?
- Don’t expect miracles. The holidays are supposed to be a season of good will and forgiveness. If your holiday anxiety stems from a deep history of family conflict, don’t expect to resolve any large scale underlying issues now.
- Don’t do the same old thing. If you feel to overwhelmed with anything that is being asked of you, discuss other possibilities. It never hurts to ask. Maybe a sibling can do dinner this year or something along those lines.
- Do not worry about how things are supposed to be. Humans tend to compare themselves with these idealized notions of perfect holidays for perfect families. Come on, what family does not have some kind of discord in the family from time to time? Every family has tension, dry turkeys, and melancholy.
- Try not to overdo it. Pacing yourself is the key to reducing holiday stress. Maybe stay one or two nights at your parents’ house instead of three or four. Plan to stop by the holiday party for a couple hours instead of being there all night long.
Author: Blaine Pollock