Why Are the Holidays so Stressful?

Christmas is thought of as the most wonderful time of year, so why do so many people struggle emotionally during the holidays? Things like family gatherings, work events, and delicious food and drinks should cause us to feel happy and excited; however, these are often triggers that exacerbate feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. This blog post will go over the main reasons why the holidays are so stressful, and what to do to handle them.


Forgetting Self Care

During the holidays, your to-do list becomes overflowed with family events, social obligations, cooking, cleaning, gift shopping, traveling, and much more. With so much to get done, many people tend to neglect their mental and physical well-being. It’s easy to stop doing things that keep you happy and healthy, such as skipping your morning run, buying fast food instead of cooking a healthy meal, or giving up your time to decompress. Additionally, people tend to consume more unhealthy food, sugar, and alcohol during the holidays, which also harms your physical and mental health.

It’s important to take care of yourself during the holidays. Avoid drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy foods as much as possible. While it may be difficult to find the time to keep up with your normal routines involving exercise, diet, and stress management, don’t let them fall by the wayside. Maintaining even a little bit of self care can help you combat stress, anxiety, and depression.


High Expectations

Expecting the holiday to go perfectly is setting yourself up for disappointment and resentment. Unfortunately, the flawless depictions of holidays we see on TV are not reality; however, we have grown up seeing these images and expect the same for our own families. Whether you burnt the holiday ham, didn’t get the gift you were hoping for, or a family argument started at the dinner table, things almost never go as expected.

A great way to handle holiday stress is to go with the flow and to not set your expectations so high. Things are not going to be perfect, so you will have a much better time if you appreciate the good moments as they come. Practice gratitude and think about the things you do have to be thankful for, such as a family member you are excited to see, a certain dish you are looking forward to eating, or a tradition you love partaking in each year.


Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s hard to avoid comparing yourself to others during this time of year. Your social media feed may be filled with pictures of friends and celebrities that are seemingly having the best holiday ever. Family events may be filled with invasive, unnecessary comments about your love life, career, living situation, lack of children, or any other shortcoming. Many people find themselves comparing their situation to family members or people they see on social media, but these feelings of inadequacy can lead to depression and isolation.

Remember: You are never getting the full picture. People tend to only post the good aspects of their lives, not the bad parts – even the most picture-perfect holiday selfies on Facebook have secrets hidden behind them. Almost everybody has their own issues and shortcomings, and pretty much every family has some sort of drama involved. Try not to compare yourself to others; instead, focus on all the great things you have achieved this year – big and small.


Seasonal Affective Disorder

While depression during the holidays tends to be caused by stress and family issues, there is a likelihood that it may be caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a form of depression that is caused by the change of seasons. If you experience specific symptoms during the colder season (such as a lack of energy, sad or hopeless feelings, a change in sleep or appetite, a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, difficulty concentrating, or have suicidal thoughts), you may have SAD. Talk to your doctor to find the right treatment for you.


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