The merriment and mirth it's assumed we experience during the holiday season can lead to disappointment, anxiety and, in some cases, depression.
The American Psychological Association reports that the expectation of “gift-giving, decorating, feasting and family gathering" can lead to holiday-related stress or the "holiday blues."
So real are these concerns that the APA offers some tips for the holidays. Here are a few of them:
- Have realistic expectations: No holiday experience is perfect. See glitches as opportunities to exercise your skills of flexibility and resilience. If the meal doesn’t turn out as you’d wished, make it a memorable moment, have a laugh. If your kids are disappointed with what they did or didn't get, make it a teachable moment. The holidays are not all about the gifts.
- Healthy conversations: In these times when communities and families can be so divided, remember to focus on the positive things about the season. Let your get-togethers be a time to express gratitude for loved-ones and friendships, to reflect on good memories of those no longer here. You might even do a group activity that fosters laughter and fun – a family game or sharing family photos or videos from the past year.
- Volunteer: Non-profits tend to be overwhelmed with holiday do-gooders but look beyond the biggest soup kitchens or shelters and find a less well-known organization to help out. Doing for others can lift your mood and put your problems or feelings in perspective.
- Seek support: Don’t hold your blues in. It’s OK to talk about worries and fears with trusted family and friends. Expressing these feelings out loud often helps you think more clearly and come up with coping strategies.
If you can’t seem to shake the blues, or they begin to feel so strong they keep you from functioning, don’t be afraid to seek outside support.
Here are some Kansas City area resources:
- Swope Health Services 816-922-1070
- Tri County Mental Health Services 816-468-0400
- Commcare Community Behavioral Healthcare Providers 816-472-9021
- Comprehensive Mental Health Services 816-254-3652
- Johnson County Mental Health 24-Hour Crisis Line 913-268-0156
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (273- TALK) or text TALK to 741741