The winter holiday season for most people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings with family and friends. The holiday season may seem more challenging for a young mother. The busyness of the season can bring up feelings of anxiety, stress and sometimes even sadness or depression.
When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. It is important to take time for yourself in the midst of the chaos. You need to try and prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll in the past.
Try these 10 tips to help prevent the anxiety, mild depression, and stress associated with the holiday season:
1. Make reasonable expectations for the holiday season. Set realistic goals for yourself. Be sure you are not taking on more responsibilities than you can handle. It is important to pace yourself. Don’t compare yourself to the people you see on social media. You want to have fun with your kids and make the season memorable for them, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make every holiday craft you find on Pinterest or attend every holiday event.
2. This season has so many events taking place that it is near impossible to do them all. To help make the holiday tasks more manageable, make a list and prioritize the important activities. Think about what is most important to you and your family, and be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
3. Don’t focus so much energy into just one day (Christmas, or New Year’s Eve, for example). It can be draining. Enjoy the present and live each day “in the moment.” The stress of the season really only falls on the parent. To kids it is pure magic. Take a minute to breathe and watch your child as they watch a holiday movie and sip on hot cocoa or the wonder in their eye when they see those holiday lights- that is what it’s all about. Also, avoid setting yourself up for disappointments and sadness by not comparing today with “the good ole days” of your past.
4. If you are lonely, try volunteering your time to help others. While you are there reach out and make new friends with other volunteers. Feed My Starving Children is a great organization that is often in search of volunteers and they welcome young helpers as well. You could volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
5. There is no doubt about it, this time of year the purse strings are a little tight. Find holiday activities that are free to enjoy with your child(ren), such as looking at holiday decorations, drinking hot cocoa and watching holiday movies, or watching the winter weather, whether it’s a raindrop or a snowflake to help you stay in the holiday spirit. Children really find such joy in these things, which in turn warms your heart as well.
6. Spend some time with supportive and caring people. Go out for a cup of coffee, get together and make some holiday crafts, whatever it is you enjoy doing, and let off some steam. Talk your frustrations out.
7. Contact a distant relative or a long lost friend to spread some holiday cheer. It always feels good to know that people are thinking about us. Bringing them a little holiday joy will in turn bring you some joy as well.
8. Don’t try and handle it all yourself if you don’t have to. Let others share the responsibilities of the holiday tasks.
9. Make time for yourself. Everyone needs a little space to breathe, even this time of year. Go for a walk, meditate, read a book, or whatever it is that relaxes you.
10. Keep an eye on your holiday spending. After the holidays are over and the bills come in, the effects of your overspending can lead to more stress and even depression. Maybe start planning ahead for the years to come. Start a holiday savings and put some money away in the months leading up to the holidays so they aren’t such an overwhelming expense.