Does it seem like every year the holiday season kicks off earlier than the previous year? I remember when it was almost unheard of to see Christmas displays or holiday shopping commercials until after Thanksgiving. Now, I see Halloween decorations and Christmas decoration in the store at the same time! When did that become okay? Are we now a society that cannot even take the time to enjoy the time of year that we are currently in and rush into the next season?

The holiday season does have a magical effect on people. It’s filled with good will, merriment and celebrations, as well as beautiful lights and decorations. However, the onslaught of holiday cheer being shoved down our throats earlier and earlier each year sad-santabrings on holiday side effects that many of us suffer from. Stress, anxiety, financial strain, over commercialization, and depression set in during the autumn season instead of being kept at bay until the winter. Consequently, the post-holiday depression can be more severe due to the longer build up.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s holiday trio are demanding on all of us. There are expensive gifts to buy and wrapping to be done, hosting and attending a get-together, coping with less daylight and more darkness, and house guests to entertain and make comfortable. If there is a recent trauma / loss or family strain, then holidays can seem torturous, even if they once were enjoyable. Arguments with family and friends throughout the year may be affecting how you plan to spend your holidays, and not being with loved ones can be awful. Part of the holidays are about forgiveness, starting the new year fresh, and family spending time together. So I say that if the situation is not toxic or abusive, then let the arguments go with the Northeasterly wind and try to restore peace.

Look out for some signs that you or a loved one could be suffering from anxiety or depression from the holiday stress. Here are a few signs that I know about:

  1. insomniasadness
  2. overeating (especially carbs or starches) or over-drinking
  3. loss of focus or motivation
  4. headaches
  5. mood swings or unusual irritability

Here are some survival tips that I have picked up along the way:

  1. Make realistic expectations and goals for the holidays.
  2. Don’t put all of your energy into one of the holidays, such as Christmas. There is a whole season of things to celebrate and be thankful for.
  3. Make a list prioritizing things to do. This can make the overwhelming more manageable.
  4. If you are alone, try volunteering or doing something new for the holidays.
  5. Reach out to long-lost friends or relatives. You never know; you may be brightening up their holiday too.
  6. Try not to live in the past or expect “the good old days”. Live in the present.
  7. Try free events during the holidays, like window shopping, looking at decorations, build snowmen if weather allows, or visiting youth center events.
  8. Limit alcohol intake!
  9. Spend at least 30 minutes exercising or being active. The release of endorphins makes you feel happier and the activity can be a good stress-reliever.
  10. Avoid those that are negative or make you feel bad about yourself. If you know that someone who makes you feel poorly about yourself or always argues with you is going to be at an event, then do something for yourself instead. Surround yourself with people who support you, not with those that can’t even be kind.

This time of year should be special to you. Try something new or stick with tradition. Just be sure that you can reflect on what you are thankful for, celebrate your accomplishments throughout the year, and set goals for next year.

And don’t worry about the early holiday displays and decorations filling the stores. Before New Year’s is over, the stores will have Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day decorations out, which means that springtime is coming!


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