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When the Holidays Aren't So Merry - Coping with Holiday Stress and Depression

For many people the winter holiday season is a time filled with the excitement of decorations, presents, celebrations and parties with family and friends. For others, however, that excitement transforms into stress, sadness, anxiety, dread, loneliness or depression.  Some of the most common factors associated with these hard-to-cope-with feelings are the:
  • Unrealistic expectations and commitments we place upon ourselves
  • Financial pressures
  • Grief and mourning for people we loved who are no longer with us.
James Meyer, Ph.D., manager at the Greece Mental Health Clinic offers a number of suggestions to help alleviate some of these negative feelings. But if the pressure gets to be too much to cope with alone, seek help from professionals inlcuding your Employee Assistance Program (aka your EAP) at 1-800-327-2255.  

#1: Unrealistic Commitments:
The excitement of the holiday season makes it easy to over-commit and then become overwhelmed with everything you have to do.

 Specific Suggestions:  
   - Decide on your priorities and try to stick with them. 
   - Organize your time. Be reasonable and realistic with your schedule.
   - Realize it’s okay to say “No” and to “Take a Breather”. 
   - Make time for yourself when you are overwhelmed. Even a few minutes a day can help you 

 #2:  Increased Financial Pressures 
Despite the many messages about the Holidays being a time of family and good will, it‘s easy to get caught up in the commercial aspects of the holidays, especially if you have children.  Before you know it, you may have spent way more money than you intended.
Specific Suggestions:
 Be realistic and honest about what you can and cannot afford. 
    - Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Over-indulgence is not a recipe for love and happiness. 
    - Extra time with your loved ones, telling them how much they mean to you and making the time you have together special are the best gifts of all.

#3: Grief Related to Loss:
During the holidays, it’s only natural to reminisce about people who are no longer with you. These memories can be especially difficult if the loss was recent.

Specific Suggestions:
    - Acknowledge your feelings. It’s normal to grieve over losses and it’s okay to cry and express your feelings.
    - Reach out to others who can support you.   
    - If you’re up to it, volunteer to help others.
    - Stick with healthy habits but also indulge yourself a little.

If despite your best efforts, you find yourself persistently sad or depressed, consult with your physician and/or contact EAP. Set up an appointment with counselors trained to listen, help you organize your thoughts, or refer you to a specialist.  Completely confidential help is available 24/7 at 1-800-327-2255.