The holidays are a time of immense joy and happiness, right? Well, maybe for some people. But if you’ve got a case of the holiday blues, know this: you’re not alone. Anxiety and depression are very common during the holiday season. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), ¾ of people surveyed reported feeling anxious and/or depressed during the holiday season.
Although we might think of the holidays as a magical time especially for kids, adults typically have a different experience – one filled with pressure to come up with enough time and money to make it all happen. In addition, social pressures to convene with colleagues, friends and family members, as well as travel commitments add even more stress to the mix. While all of this can be fun and exciting, it’s also stressful and can set the stage for anxiety and depression.
Hollywood paints a picture of what our holidays should look like, but reality is much different. For many, the holidays bring up memories of the past or force reflection. Many people find themselves counting the “number of Christmases” since the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship. It’s a time when people tend to reflect on where they are in their lives, and when that isn’t ideal, the misperception that “life is roses and unicorns” for everyone else can creep in.
That’s why it is important during the holiday season to manage these emotions you might experience. Here are a few of the ways that you might boot the holiday blues.
#1 Treat Yourself to Acupuncture:
A great therapy to calm the mind and relieve holiday stress is Acupuncture. Chinese medicine is a unique therapy in that it addresses the connection between the mind and body. In Chinese medicine, every organ system has an emotion associated with it. For instance, grief is connected with the lungs. This emotion tends to come up a lot during the holiday season. When the liver is unbalanced, symptoms of depression, anger or irritability emerge. The heart relates to joy, but when it’s unbalanced it can lead to mania. The spleen corresponds with worry and over thinking, and the kidney corresponds with fear. While all of these emotions are normal, if you stagnate in one emotion too long, imbalance in that organ system may occur. Acupuncture is helpful because it revitalizes the spirit and heals the mind and the body. When people get their first acupuncture treatment, they often realize the connection between the mind and the body. They’re getting a physical treatment applied to their body, yet their mood and outlook improve dramatically. What happens pathologically in the body when there is stress or grief? The muscular structures around the chest may actually constrict and tighten near the heart and lungs, and that can restrict the flow of qi to the heart and the liver. If that restriction isn’t released and corrected that leads to what is called Liver Qi Stagnation or Heart Qi Stagnation. If left unresolved, it can lead to something that is known in Chinese medicine Heat in the Heart. When this occurs people may experience panic attacks, anxiety and restlessness.
#2 Limit Social Obligations
We all feel pulled in many directions over the holidays. Just simply allowing yourself to say ‘no’ to social events or work parties occasionally here and there can go a long way. Try setting healthy boundaries so that you don’t become overly exhausted. Instead, pick the favorite ones and stay true to taking care of yourself.
#3 Continue to Exercise and Eat Well
There’s no easier time to fall off of the wagon than during the holiday season when you are surrounded by copious amounts of sweets, processed foods and alcohol! The thing is, if you are feeling stressed during the holidays you really need those endorphins and nutrients from your workouts and healthy eating style to sustain you. Furthermore, maintaining your routine can be calming in itself.
Many of us experience anxiety and/or depression during the holidays. The key is to stay on top of it and take care of you as much as possible.
What has helped you in the past when dealing with anxiety and depression during the holidays?