Navigating the Highs and Lows of the HolidaysHolidays can bring with it a flurry of emotions, but not all of them positive. Whether it’s the stress of getting ready for the holidays or the pain of experiencing a loss in your life, there is an increase in stress and depression during this time of year. Sound familiar? If so, here are some tips to help you cope with the emotional ups and downs of this season.

  1. Talk About Your Losses
    If you’ve experienced loss lately or have not dealt with loss from your past, it may bring up feelings of loneliness or grief. It can seem as if no one understands what you’re going through. You may feel completely alone, especially around Christmas. Know that your feelings are valid. It helps to reach out to someone who is in a similar situation. It could be someone you met in a Life Recovery group, a friend, or a neighbor. They may be grieving and feeling lonely, too. Talk on the phone, text, or email each other daily. Make a pact to help each other throughout the holiday season. Try to find someone to talk to other than your spouse or a close family member.
  2. Find Healthy Ways to Cope
    Long lines at the mall, no parking spaces, and too much on your to-do list can tempt you to turn to addiction—like alcohol, pornography, overeating or something else. Instead, look for better ways to deal with stress. For example, try calling a friend and talking about it. Say out loud, “I am feeling angry right now because…” Talking about your feelings and taking control of the situation can help. You can also take a long walk, get a massage, or write in a journal. The more you turn to healthy ways to deal with stress, the less likely you will be to turn to unhealthy habits.
  3. Create New Memories and Traditions
    With holidays comes high expectations. You may have unrealistic expectations of Christmas being perfect with all of the same holiday traditions you’ve had each year. If you feel up to baking all of the cookies from scratch like holidays before and giving them to your neighbors, don’t let anyone take away that joy. But if not, create new traditions. Maybe you can have a cookie exchange and invite your neighbors or friends to bring a dozen of their homemade cookies, along with the recipe. Remember, all traditions were new at one time or another!
  4. Make Rest a Priority
    Between traffic, crowded shopping malls, and parties, it’s a busy time of the year. So, make sure you get enough rest. Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Also, set some time aside every day and use this time to pray, read the Bible, listen to music, or simply rest. Spending just 30 minutes alone, without distractions, will give you more energy to tackle everything you need to accomplish that day.
  5. Remember to Connect
    When you isolate yourself from others, it can leave you feeling low. So make an effort to connect. Call a friend or family member and ask them to visit. If you are invited to a party or an event and can attend, then go. Many people fall into the trap of declining invitations to the point of not being invited in the future. You will give yourself and your loved ones a gift by finding social outlets to help you stay connected.

Still struggling with the highs and lows of the holidays? Consider seeing a counselor and attending a Life Recovery group. If you don’t have a counselor or group, call 800-NEW-LIFE and we will help you find help.