We have entered the season of family, friends and work festivities. Whether finishing up projects for the year, or celebrating a variety of holidays, November – December is often packed with activity. Many people experience joy as they gather to honor old traditions or create new ones. However, this time of year can also be stressful and emotional for a variety of reasons.
We asked Perspectives’ team members to share their top advice for managing year-end and holiday stress and depression.
The Perspectives’ Experts Interviewed
|Orly Avidor||Kellie Calderon||Jorie Cotton||Stephanie Haywood||Gina Higgin|
|Jerrica Libert||Rebecca Litz||Joy Lockner||Myat T. Nyunt||Allison Zawacki|
What is your top piece of advice for managing year-end and holiday stress or depression?
Jerrica Libert LPC / Account Manager: Stay connected and present. It is easy to isolate in the colder months, but it is important to stay connected with your loved ones. Plan regular calls, video-calls and in-person hang outs if you can. Also, try to stay present in the moment. Stress and depression can often try to pull you into past or future concerns. Try to stay grounded in the current moment as much as possible.
Myat T Nyunt LCSW / Counselor: It’s important to take breaks, and it’s ok to say no. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help.
Stephanie Haywood LCPC / Executive Account Manager: Reach out to others by creating a project. Ask family or friends to bake or make something and then deliver it together to a neighbor or someone in need. Take it one day at a time when planning and scale down if the sound of “usual” festivities sounds too stressful.
Joy Lockner LCSW, CEAP, CADC, SAP / Executive Account Manager: Set realistic expectations and be willing to say no.
Orly Avidor LCSW, CADC / EAP Counselor: Be prepared to Say NO. Don’t feel obligated to say yes to every party invite, every dinner, every holiday activity you’re invited to. Politely say, “no,” and do so ASAP. Thank the person for including you. If you have another commitment, mention it first and then politely refuse. If you are interested in connecting with the person, offer to meet at another date and time. Close with positive wishes for the occasion.
Jorie Cotton LCPC, GCDF / Sr. Account Manager: Create boundaries. When we are with family we tend to fall back into old “outdated” roles which no longer serve us. Creating boundaries around what we will accept during this stressful time allows individuals to be true to their personal expectations, not bending to the will and expectations of those around them.
Kellie Calderon LCPC / Account Manager: Identify what exactly is causing your stress, and separate each stressor so you can work on them one at a time. Self-awareness is key!
Rebecca Litz LCSW, CADC, PHR / Director of Account Management:
- Think of the holidays as a season vs specific days. It can take some pressure off, especially if there is a blended family or need to travel.
- Put gratitude on the top of your list: consider starting a family gratitude jar, people can put in notes all year and then you can read them next Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve. You will have a year of gratitude to reflect on moving forward.
- Set your budget ahead of time and STICK TO IT.
Gina Higgin / Executive Account Manager:
- Holiday Stress Management – You are in charge of how much stress you want to create or avoid. Make choices rather than just falling into the same routine if it causes stress. Feel free to start new traditions and do something different, especially if the old ways are not fulfilling.
- Year-end Reflection – Take stock and look at what you have done well and celebrate; things you could have done better, learn from that and go forward into the new year with some attainable goals rather than lofty ones.
- Managing Depression – It’s ok to not be ok, however it is not ok not to reach out and get some help. There are many options. Take small steps to take care of you.
What apps or tools do you recommend for managing stress?
Myat: I like this simple guided breathing exercise from Calm, allowing the user to really slow down and practice their deep breathing.
Kellie: This can be used anytime, but I love the app Pomo Done. It is an app that helps with time management and procrastination. You set a timer for 25 minutes of uninterrupted work, with a 5-minute break, and do this a few times until you get a larger break. It is great at getting tasks done!
Jerrica: The Calm app is great for mindfulness resources, particularly when it comes to sleep. I enjoy their brief morning movement exercises that help you wake up. I also like progressive muscle relaxation videos on YouTube.
How do you manage your own year-end and holiday stress?
Joy: I enjoy a run outside.
Stephanie: I normalize my feelings as they are real and talk about it to family and friends. I also advocate for talking to a professional. It is an important tool to remember.
Allison Zawacki LCSW / Account Manager: Managing holiday/year-end stress is never easy but, throw in a global pandemic – well, it just became increasingly more difficult. Now, more than ever, I listen to my own thoughts and my own body (they sure have a lot to say lately 🙂 ). If I’m tired, I take a break; if I have a great deal of energy, I go for a walk (or shoot hoops with my kiddos); if I am feeling down, I take some “me time”; if I need to talk, I find an ear to bend. And most of all, while I focus on being kind to others, I am certain to be kind to myself as well.
Myat: I keep in touch with family/ friends.
Gina: I try to stay in the present during the holiday season and enjoy the moments. I try and spend more time than money with those I love and create a memory or 2 that we can build on throughout the year or each year going forward.
Jerrica: I take things one step at a time and try not to get too far ahead of myself. I make a lot of lists. I stay in regular communication with my loved ones. I plan ahead if I can. I try to get fresh air when it isn’t too cold.
Kellie: I try my best to focus on what I can control as well as the positive aspects of the holidays. The happy memories, seeing family, and just experiencing as much joy as possible!
If you need to talk to a professional, reach out to your EAP or contact Perspectives Counseling and Psychotherapy Centers at 866-296-5262.