Holidays are upon us, families are getting together, celebrations are all around us, friends are flying in from other states, holiday cards come to your mailbox. People are putting their best foot forward and singing carols to older folks. Happy children are all around us, chasing the Elf on the Shelf and writing Santa letters, begging for their current entire year’s bad behavior to be dismissed! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
If all of these amazing things are surrounding us, then “Why do people have higher levels of depression during this time of year?”
Behind the scenes of the dreamy holidays: The Holiday cards need to be made. We need to schedule a day with everyone able to make the photo and we need to make sure it’s printed, labeled, mailed and received by the post office deadlines. The gifts need to be bought, ordered, received, wrapped, and labeled. We need to decide whose house will host the festivities? We need to prepare the house to fit all the people we invite. Cookies, turkeys, yams, 7 fishes, and whatever traditional foods need to be purchased, cooked and served. Time lines need to be arranged so you can see everyone on your list. Don’t forget the decorations!
Are you still mad at Uncle Bob for running around with the turkeys innards last year? Did you lose someone you love (death, divorce, break of a friendship, loss of a coworker) and every holiday is just harder than the one before? As your stress level begins to rise, so does your love for the fantastic fall and all that we have put on ourselves in this time. People begin getting crabbier and crabbier at the stores. Grocery stores get over crowded as we search for the one item that is SOLD OUT. The closer we get to the holidays the meaner some people seem to be.
What can we do to not be the depressed, mean, person at the stores or the Grinch in our own homes?
1.) Set realistic goals this year: All of the decorations don’t have to come out this year to beat last year’s amazing set up. It’s OK to go simple. Don’t join every cookie exchange, expect to buy every gift on every list, or beat yourself up because you couldn’t fit everyone in this year. No one will notice if you decided to not make the fruitcake!
2.)Divide responsibilities: Host the holidays, if that’s what you want, however let your aunt know she can bring the salad, your sister the desserts and you’re supplying the rest. Have no responsibilities? Reach out to the house you are going to and help divide their responsibility.
3.)Lesson those lists: No one will DIE without something on their list. The feeling that we need to please everyone is a huge factor in stress. Let it go. They didn’t have that item before they wrote their list; I can assure you they won’t die after the holiday! The pressure of buying someone exactly what they wanted and then 10 more items is stressful. Since when did holidays become about what you want rather than what I would love to buy you?
4.)Solve lingering issues: Try to solve your issues with any family member or friend that you will have to be around for the holiday. No one wants to hear about your issues, deal with them, or take part in them. So either fix them and be the bigger person or deal quietly!
5.)Create new family traditions: Knowing that every year, you open this one particular box and it makes you sad for a week maybe, this year you just wont open that box. Come up with new ideas. If your ex and you did (something) then DON’T try to recreate that. You are setting yourself up for immediate sadness.
6.)Be OK with problems: Each issue brought to you shouldn’t ruin your day. Learning to shrug it off, make an attempt to fix it or just forget about it is completely a great idea. Christmas trees fall, ornaments crash to the floor, and life goes on.
7.)Create a schedule: You want to see everyone, go to every party, and not feel bad about missing anything. Then create a schedule and if someone calls you after you are already booked say “I’m so sorry but I can’t make it this year, I am already scheduled. Busy season, people book early now! Can we meet another day?” Sad because you wanted to go, call and cancel other plans. “I am so sorry. Joe’s party is this time every year and we always go.” People will be fine. If they aren’t then you don’t want that high pressured friend.
8.) Have a sick day: You’re behind on wrapping, you have a party to go to, you’re going to be awake until 3 am on Christmas Eve and awakened by happy children at 6 am. You are dreading it already. Cancel your plans. You won’t be missed that much and your kids will appreciate the happy you!
9.)Watch your money: Put a limit on your spending, then work around that. You won’t feel guilt is you spent an extra hundred bucks however if you can’t pay the mortgage you’ll get depressed.
10.)Enjoy your life: Remember life is supposed to be fun. Holidays are to make life better. It forces us to see the people we are too busy for during the year and eliminates that guilt!
~Enjoy your holidays, remember life is fun and stop letting the fallen fruit cake make you cry~