How to reduce holiday stress and depression post-ABI

BY: CELIA M

Now that we’re well into December, the holiday season has officially arrived and its many celebrations have begun. While retailers have been entrancing us with benchmark images of the perfect Hallmark Christmas for years, the advancement of technology and social media apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, filled with photos of happy people celebrating, can leave us feeling like we are ‘failing’ at Christmas and all the holiday cheer.

For those who are dealing with PTSD, ABI and/or difficult times – this feeling of not doing or being enough during the the holidays can lead to a cocktail of increased anxiety, stress, and depression with a side appetizer of isolation.

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Common triggers to holiday stress and depression are:

Relationships

Even in healthy families, holiday gatherings can stir up a whirlwind of emotions, especially if you have gone through significant changes in your life. Perhaps you have lost touch with friends and family and are facing the holidays alone. While society and media make the holidays about family – know that you can create your own (non-blood) family and that you can be your own friend.

Finances

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the added expenses of gifts, travel, entertainment, and hosting. Make a budget – and stick to it.

Physical and emotional demands

Attending social functions, shopping, hosting guests, preparing meals and cleaning can all start to take huge bites out of your energy reserve. Learn that it’s ok to decline invitations and say NO to things that may cause you stress, anxiety or just because you don’t want to do.

woman in santa claus hat meditating

Is the thought of attending family gatherings, exchanging gifts, holiday travel, hosting, or attending a social function taking the sparkle out of your holiday spirit?

This year keep your sparkle and add some glitter too!  Instead of letting your emotions and reactions get the best of you, during this time of joy and celebration, you may find it helpful to identify your holiday triggers and plan some coping strategies in advance. Try these tips to help you manage the demands of the holidays:

Expectations

Are your expectations of how the holidays should be “realistic” or are you trying to create the social media/retailer version? It’s important to remember there is no ‘perfect’ way to celebrate and things don’t have to remain as they were last year. Families and friendships change and grow, circumstances change and traditions can change too. Be open to creating new traditions that reflect your circumstances and who you are today.

Stick to Your Budget

Encourage family to draw names instead of buying individual gifts, set a budget for gifts with friends, plan a day trip close to home, give the gift of time or skill or host a pot luck meal instead of doing it all on your own. Remember there are many ways to gift and have fun during the holidays which do not cost a penny.

Self Care

Letting go of proper eating, lack of sleep and being over committed can only add to your increased stress during the holidays. Make sure you are staying hydrated, eating healthy, getting sufficient sleep, are not over committing yourself and are being compassionate with yourself. Be sure to add walking or another activity such as yoga/stretching to keep your body moving and meditate for 10 minutes twice a day to give your mind an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate.

woman in Santa Claus hat looked stressed out

Connect with Others

If you are alone during the holidays or feeling isolated, reach out to organizations in the community and volunteer. Giving of your time is something that will not only help others; it will get you out among people and perhaps making new friendships.

Ask for Help

Sometimes no matter how much you try to prepare, feelings of sadness and anxiety can creep in, manifesting into a lack of energy for simple everyday tasks (i.e. eating, showering, dressing etc.) or insomnia, irritability and lack of interest in social interaction. Be sure to reach out to your family doctor or phycologist if you are feeling overwhelmed.

With a little planning and preparation, you may find that the Christmas and holiday season isn’t so bad, after all!


 

Celia MCelia is an ABI survivor who is dedicated to helping others move forward in their journey and live the life they dream of. She is the founder of the internationally read blog High Heeled Life – inspiration for living a luxurious and balanced life; featured author in Soulful Relationships part of the best-selling series Adventures in Manifesting; a Peer Mentor with BIST; a regular speaker for Canadian Blood Services – Speakers Bureau; certified Life Coach, certified Law of Attraction Practitioner and currently working on her Mind Calm Meditation certification. Learn more about Celia and be inspired: visit http://www.HighHeeledLife.com or http://www.Resilientista.com

 

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