Simplify the holidays to avoid anxiety and stress

What’s supposed to be a joyful time of the year full of celebrations can be anything but for some people.

Depression, anxiety, and stress levels can soar during the holiday season.

Crisis workers say that during the holiday season they see depression rates increase dramatically and that it can strike anyone for a number of different reasons.

“We tend to see higher levels of stress when people’s to-do list gets pretty hectic for the holiday,” according to Monique Frazier. Frazier is a clinical psychologist and Staff Psychologist for Counseling and Psychological Services at Utah State.

Out-of-town guests, parties, finances and the stress of getting gifts for everyone on your lists can bring anxiety and stress during the holiday season, according to Frazier.

“Do what you can to simplify the holidays,” she said. “Try to make the holidays a time where you do some extra self-care.  That means say no to some invitations. That means simplifying gift giving or decorating your home.”

Christmas is about gift giving, but according to Frazier, giving too much causes needless anxiety. “I think setting a spending budget and sticking to it really helps you out, especially when January rolls around.”  She added, “Don’t set yourself up for unnecessary financial stress.”

Frazier said family dynamics can also be challenging during the holidays.  She said, “It’s good to have a plan in place for get-togethers.”  She suggests going to a different room or go for a drive in order to regroup.

“I also think the holidays are a good time for service opportunities.” Frazier said engaging in “simple service during the holidays tends to be a mood booster for people.”

If you feel that you may have seasonal depression because of the weather, talk to your doctor about solutions. Some solutions may include sun lamps, medication, self-compassion or even planning a trip to get some real sun. Look for ways to nurture and care for yourself and try to find small amounts of joy.

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