While the holiday season is supposed to be festive and jolly, you might find your mental health suffering around this time of year. Perhaps you’re grieving a lost loved one, worried about your finances, anxious about your family dynamic or living with seasonal depression.
Holiday stress can cause or worsen physical, mental and behavioral health issues such as substance use, anxiety and depression. Here are some tips you can use to navigate this season’s challenges and kick off 2023 on a healthier note.
1. Know When to Say No
If you typically get anxious or sad around the holidays, it can be hard to muster up the enthusiasm to participate in family gatherings and work get-togethers. You may reach a point where these feel more like a chore than something to look forward to. The pressure to socialize can be stigmatizing if you have trouble maintaining a positive attitude. Accept that you don’t need to force yourself to seem happy just because it’s the holiday season. You can politely decline invitations to parties if you know they will be uncomfortable for you.
2. Focus on Your Self-Care
Healthy self-care may fall by the wayside during the holidays if you are juggling other obligations like baking, shopping and wrapping gifts. Recognize the signs of burnout and be sure to carve out time for yourself. Instead of spending the holidays trying to fulfill other people’s expectations, opt for something that appeals to you – like staying in and watching your favorite movie. To avoid misunderstandings, tell friends and family about your plans early.
3. Don’t Overspend
With retailers advertising their products earlier and earlier every year, it can be easy to get swept up in the wave of consumerism that happens throughout the holiday season. Many people feel pressured to spend more than they can realistically allow on pricey gifts like jewelry, clothes and beauty products. Avoid going into debt by giving heartfelt, handmade gifts this year, or offer to help your loved ones with household chores like cooking or small repairs.
4. Stay Connected
While many people look forward to spending more time with friends and family during the holiday season, there’s also the danger of becoming isolated. Depression or anxiety can make it especially challenging to reach out to others. If you don’t feel comfortable visiting people in person or can’t make the trip this year, consider organizing a group phone call or video chat.
Making Your Holidays Less Stressful
Holiday stress can be a dangerous trigger for people in addiction recovery. You can take advantage of the skills you learned in treatment to avoid relapsing and preserve your sobriety throughout this season. If you find yourself struggling, reach out to us at Hope by the Sea. We can help you get back on the road to long-term addiction recovery with our customized programming.