The holidays are upon us, and it's not all sugar plums, rugelach, and gingerbread spiced lattes for everyone. In fact, the holidays can be quite unbearable for some.
If you're having a hard time this holiday season, you're not alone. Pressure, financial strain, grief, trauma, difficult family dynamics, abandonment of your routine in all sorts of whacky ways, and wanting it all to be perfect in the face of these stressors? Well... it's a lot.
So, I'm letting myself a bit off the hook this week. I'm borrowing some tips from Why We Get Depressed At The Holidays, And How To Deal, a 2014 article from The Huffington Post... because it captured nearly everything I wanted to say, and there's no need to reinvent the wheel, right?!
>>>Please, find the article here.<<<
It's a great piece and worth way more than the short 3 minutes it takes to read it.
The author, Carolyn Gregoire, in collaboration with psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Sichel, explores the stressors of this time of year and their impact on mental health. The article lists 5 common risk factors for depression during the season. And, in my opinion, it serves as a pretty nice guide for preventing holiday burnout & stress, too.
My favorite tip from the article is:
"Comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides" (is not helpful!!)
The practice of comparing your inner experience (be it anger, sadness, or not feeling anything at all) to what you believe other people are experiecing is a dangerous one. And I think it's a super easy trap to fall into during the holidays.
When you compare yourself to others, you're usually only using the surface view of that person's life to inform your judgment. You're not getting a true reflection of what's really going on inside and behind closed doors. You're seeing the snapshot version of life on social media and the adorable holiday cards in your mailbox. Usually, the really tough stuff doesn't make it off the cutting room floor. Most folks don't post about how hard their grief comes on at Christmas, how scared they are about maintaining sobriety on New Years, how embarrassed they are that they're still not talking to their siblings after all these years...
Besides, wouldn't you be irritated if others assumed they knew everything about you just from first glance at the newsfeed? It just doesn't add up.
So, back to the article. Read it, think about it, and then go give yourself some loving kindness this holiday season. Whether it's sticking to a healthy routine, taking time to be creative and reflective, reaching out to those who need/love/support you, or taking a break from social media, just do it!
And, please- if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression, talk to a doctor or consult with a mental health therapist as soon as possible.
For more information about how I might be able to help you or someone you love, please contact me here.