Thanksgiving starts the holiday season that can bring a lot of joy. And pressure and stress.
So what are some ideas for avoiding the “Holiday Blues?”
Often stress associated with holidays comes from a feeling that a person is not in control, not in control of their schedule, not in control of their finances, said Nancy Osborn, a psychologist with ReDiscover a mental-health agency based in Lee’s Summit.
“When we change our routine, it also can have an impact and cause stress,” Osborn said.
She said a good way to prevent feeling overwhelmed is to take two conscious steps:
Stick to your routine
Holidays present an opportunity to overindulge, which can lead to regrets and depression, she said. For example, a person who is dieting, if they toss their diet for the holiday, might feel remorse and guilt. They might even give up trying if they gain some weight. So purposely decide to stay with your normal eating routine.
Set a budget for spending on gifts and on how much time you’ll go visiting.
Consider how much you can afford and choose purchases in line with that budget.
Families who have financial difficulties can take steps to avoid overspending such as agreeing to only buy gifts for children, or drawing names and getting one gift per person. They can make meaningful gifts instead of buying presents.
And remember that holidays come with a history. People often find it stressful to be with family because of past conflicts.
“If possible, just talk and say, “We don’t need to deal with old stuff today,” Osborn said. But if the conflict is too severe, then maybe it would be better to spend the holiday apart.
Couples who divorced should try to avoid tugging on children; they can talk to each other and plan a day where children can have contact with each parent. Don’t try to outdo the other buying presents.
She suggests cultivating an attitude of gratefulness and thinking about positives in your life.
Or give a present or help to someone else without expecting one in return. Volunteer or make a donation to help someone in need. Getting “outside” yourself changes focus away from your problems.
Think about many positive things you probably have in your life, compared to the trials other people are facing.
“It’s hard to be grateful and be depressed at the same time,” Osborn said. “It’s looking at what I have rather than what I don’t have.”