Besides all the glad tidings and season's greetings, the holidays can leave a lot of people frazzled or for some, it can trigger episodes of anxiety and depression. Here, two top psychiatrists weigh in with some self-care advice to enjoy the season without completely unraveling.
"Overly high expectations for the holidays - be it around the food, the gifts, or the family relationships -- can trigger anxiety and even depression," says Dr. Mallay Occhiogrosso, a psychiatrist at the Payne Whitney Clinic at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in the US. "Prioritizing self-care is important, as well as dialing down those unrealistic Hallmark holiday fantasies."
"During the holidays, our lives become even more stressful as we try to juggle our usual responsibilities with extra holiday preparation and complicated family dynamics," adds Dr. Maria A. Oquendo, a psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
Here is their advice on staying sane through the holiday season:
1. If you're having difficulties with your family, consider seeking emotional support. If you're lonely because you don't have family nearby, volunteer your time at an organization to make new connections.
2. If things get stressful, take a 15-minute break for yourself. Try taking a brisk walk around the block. Not only is exercise a great stress relief, "a daily dose of winter sunlight can dramatically improve your mood," they advise.
3. Don't be a perfectionist about shopping. "Don't let competitiveness, guilt, and perfectionism send you on too many shopping trips," they say. "Create a holiday shopping budget and stick to it."
4. Set realistic expectations for your holiday celebrations, and try to accept your family and friends for who they are.
5. Celebrate the memories of loved ones who have past. The holidays can be a tough time for those who have suffered a loss. Be sure to plan a time to talk and celebrate the people who are no longer there.