The holiday season for most people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings with family and friends. For many people, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety. Sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person.
During the holidays, there is an increase in the number of activities, tasks, and social events that people must manage. Shopping and gift buying can cause financial and emotional stress and can create a need to manage crowds, traffic, and malls or large stores. Family, school, neighborhood, and work celebrations and parties create social, time, and energy demands. Traveling to be with family or friends for the holidays can cause a variety of additional stress. Being unable to be with family or friends (for whatever reason) can also be highly stressful. If you are experiencing a significant loss or actively grieving, the holidays can be more stressful. School, work, and sleep schedules are often disrupted during the holidays and healthy ways of managing stress like ensuring good nutrition and daily exercise are often interrupted. The holidays are synonymous with family, so any issues that a person has with their family will come to the forefront during this time. If there is loss, dysfunction, addiction, abuse, disconnection, separation, estrangement, or divorce occurring or affecting your family, then there is the likelihood that you will have to manage the emotions that are related to these issues. For someone already managing depression, it is an additional emotional burden. Although the holidays can be a time for celebration and a return to the faith or values or people that help provide support for us, all of the increased demands on our time, energy, patience, and flexibility can take a toll. People greeting each other with the expression “Happy Holidays!” can even be perceived by someone with depression as a demand or an expectation they cannot meet. When one of the expectations of the holidays is to be “happy,” there is a 100% chance of failure for the person with depression. That being said don’t force yourself into forced festivities if you’re not feeling up to it.
Story by Sophie Post.