In Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping from the Mayo Clinic, we are encouraged to “take control of the holidays” by acting in advance to avoid stress and depression, and by planning – away from excessive demands on ourselves – toward peace and joy during the holidays.
Make sure that your expectations are realistic. It is perfectly acceptable to streamline your celebrations so that they are manageable. Establish a budget and adhere to it, perhaps by making gifts or asking your family to participate in a name-drawing exchange instead of expecting each person to buy individual gifts for all others.
Once you have established the scope of your celebrations, write your menus and shopping lists, and schedule your times to shop, bake, do other tasks or activities and gather with friends. Remember to schedule enjoyable rest breaks for yourself. Ask for help!
Prepare to say no if asked to do more than you planned, unless the invitation or request is to do something that you will love, and you can eliminate something else to make time for it. Maintain your best habits for getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, exercising and relaxing with yoga, meditation or music. Reduce consumption of news and social media if you find them stressful, and avoid overindulgence in alcohol.
If for any reason, you are feeling sad, anxious or any other emotion that may be uncomfortable or unhappy, acknowledge your feelings, at least to yourself, and accept them. It may be helpful to talk about your feelings with a friend or family member. If you feel lonely, you might attend community or religious events.
Helping others, whether through volunteering with an organization or doing something for someone you know, can be uplifting and may widen your social circle. If sadness or anxiety persist, or if hopelessness or physical complaints intrude, you may need to seek professional help with these issues – and you should do so.