Stress or Depression During the Holidays? Best to “Cope Ahead”
Newswise — The holidays can be a great source of stress - worrying about buying presents, financial stress, dreading certain family interactions, ruminating about the past or longing for loved ones that have passed. According to Adam Gonzalez, PhD, Director of Behavioral Health and Founding Director of the Mind Body Clinical Research Center at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, If you know the holidays are particularly stressful for you or you notice symptoms of depression it is important to work on “coping ahead.”
He says signs of depression may include feeling sad or down for most of the day, more days that not; not wanting to do fun things or difficulty with experiencing pleasure from activities that are usually enjoyable. You might also notice changes and difficulties with sleep and appetite, and having more negative thinking.
Dr. Gonzalez recommends some key tips to Cope Ahead during the holidays:
- Make lists of who you have to buy presents for and setting a budget as to not over spend and accumulate debt.
- Reach out and talk to family, friends, clergy, and other support people in order to seek emotional support during times of stress.
- Schedule a fun activity or do something nice for yourself - self-care is necessary, especially during times of high stress.
- Try to stay focused on the present moment and use your breathe to anchor your attention.
- Be mindful of what you are eating and get exercise.
- For those who struggle with loved ones who have passed, consider taking time to positively remember them - whether it be looking at pictures, writing about the positive memories you shared, or creatively thinking about ways to include their memory into your holiday plans, such as donations in their name.
- Think about 3 things you are grateful for each day.
- If you find that you are struggling to manage stress and feelings of depression on your own, seek out help from supportive others and professionals.