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Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping

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Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping

While the holiday season can be a wonderful time of year, it can also be demanding and stressful. These celebrations often include travel, hosting guests, planning, preparing meals, and spending lots of money. Add to that, it’s flu and cold season, and the days are at their shortest and darkest of the year. Even if everything goes according to plan—which it often doesn’t—making all of the festivities happen can be exhausting.

When facing a mix of interpersonal, financial, and event-planning worries, the cumulative stress can trigger symptoms of depression.(1) It’s important to take care and set yourself up for a successful start to the new year. Prioritizing your mental health can help you find more enjoyment in these special occasions, and not be left feeling depleted in January.

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How To Minimize Holiday Stress and Depression

Talk To Friends Or Family

The holiday season is an important time to lean on the support of family and friends. Open up about your struggles, and talk about them with your loved ones. Fortunately, people go through the holidays together, and the people close to you can probably relate to the feelings that are troubling you. Don’t keep it to yourself in an effort to preserve a “perfect” holiday. Sharing your feelings with family and friends is a great opportunity to deepen relationships and strengthen emotional bonds.

Don’t Spread Yourself Thin

You can only do so much, and there’s no correct amount. Check in with yourself, be realistic with your task load, and don’t take on more than you feel you can without burning yourself out. People often gather with others whom they wish to impress around the holidays, and they may desire to go above and beyond in preparing for an event. Don’t let yourself get carried away in the process, and make sure to give yourself the personal care you need so you can care for others the way you want to.

Keep Up Your Personal Care

While everything is demanding your attention and energy, it can be easy to let healthy habits fall by the wayside. Make sure to uphold the foundations for a healthy body and mind: a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and staying hydrated. Skimping on these fundamentals is sure to leave you at an energetic deficit when it comes time to cook that dinner or catch that plane.

Budget Carefully

The burden of financial stress is a strong precursor for symptoms of depression and is one of the biggest and most common struggles that people face around the holidays.(2,3) With so many expenses on the horizon, and possibly a few unexpected ones, it’s a good idea to be conservative when setting your budget. As with your time and energy, don’t spread yourself too thin when it comes to your finances.

Seek Professional Help

If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression in the wake of this holiday season, you may need the help of a licensed therapist. Depression, even when triggered by a stressful time of year, is not just a feeling that you need to deal with on your own. Without proper care, depression can take a serious toll on your mental health. Be sure to address your struggles appropriately and reach out for help sooner rather than later.

We are here to help. Contact us for an appointment on our website or by calling us at 212.731.2033.

We wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!

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1. Mental Health and the Holiday Blues. National Association on Mental Illness. Published November 19th 2014. Accessed December 12, 2022.

2. Guan N, Guariglia A, Moore P, Xu F, Al-Janabi H. Financial stress and depression in adults: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2022;17(2):e0264041. Published 2022 Feb 22. Accessed December 12, 2022.

3. Stress in America. American Psychological Association. Updated October 2022. Accessed December 12, 2022.

Dr. Woo has been seeing patients in private practice since 2002, always with the goals of combining evidence-based medicine with psychodynamic psychotherapy and collaborating with other mental health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for his patients. He has been certified to administer TMS at his practice since 2017. His greatest clinical interests include helping patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

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