Understand stress triggers to beat holiday blues

  • Published
  • By Valerie Seitz
  • 18th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy
Seeking support, being realistic and planning ahead can help ward off stress and depression.

For some people, the holidays bring unwelcome guests -- stress and depression.

And it's no wonder. In an effort to pull off a perfect Hallmark holiday, you might find yourself facing a dizzying array of demands -- work, parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, caring for kids on school break or elderly parents, and scores of other chores.

However, with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress and depression that may accompany the holidays.

Holiday stress and depression are often the result of three main trigger points. Understanding these trigger points can help you plan ahead and handle them to the best of your ability.

Here are the three issues that commonly trigger holiday stress or depression:

· Relationships. Relationships can cause turmoil, conflict or stress at any time. Also, tensions are often heightened during the holidays. Family misunderstandings and conflict can intensify -- especially if you're all thrust together for several days. Conflicts are bound to arise with so many needs and interests to accommodate. On the other hand, if you're facing the holidays without a loved one, you may find yourself especially lonely or sad.

· Finances. Like your relationships, your financial situation can cause stress at any time of the year. Overspending during the holidays on gifts, travel, food and entertainment can increase stress as you try to make ends meet while ensuring that everyone on your shopping list is happy.

· Physical demands. The strain of shopping, attending social gatherings and preparing holiday meals can wipe you out. Feeling exhausted can increase your stress, creating a vicious cycle. Exercise and sleep -- good antidotes for stress and fatigue -- may take a back seat to chores and errands. High demands, stress, lack of exercise, and overindulgence in food and drink -- these are the ingredients for holiday illness.

Remember, the key to minimizing holiday stress and depression is knowing the holidays can trigger stress and depression. Accept that things aren't always going to go as planned. Make a budget and follow it. Take time for yourself and don't over-schedule. And seek support when necessary.

If you find you need some additional help this holiday season, please feel free to contact family advocacy at 634-4033 for support or for a list of helping agencies.