As Christmas approaches, people are finishing up last-minute shopping and preparations, and increased stress and anxiety can take a toll on mental health.
Although the holidays are a time for celebrating and connecting with loved ones, they are not always peaceful.
“Seventy-seven percent of individuals report holiday stress, with more than half of them saying that Christmas is the most stressful holiday,” says YEG Psychology’s Holly Whyte.
Edmonton therapists say this time of year, more people experience anxiety and depression and become more stressed in their daily lives.
“Anything from the general overload of the combination of work and needing to prepare for the holidays, how busy the supermarkets are and everything like that, to stressing out the family, being alone ,” says therapist Luke Suelzle with Insight Psychological.
How to deal with holiday stress
With inflation and rising prices, financial pressure is also increasing this year. Psychologists say people often feel guilty if they don’t spend enough on the holidays. People should remember not to push their financial limits.
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“The number one reported stressor is financial because there is almost this expectation that we have to buy, usually not just one gift, many gifts for our children, our spouses, our co-workers, other individuals in our life,” Whyte said.
“Making a budget and sticking to it is so important this time of year. Find out what works for your income and not someone else’s, because everyone has different means and budgets.”
Mental health during the stressful holiday season
Whyte says that many things people experience during the holidays can trigger PTSD. Some individuals may experience loneliness, as this is their first Christmas without a loved one.
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“I see a lot of first responders or people who have to work during the holidays as well, so they might be missing out on the usual Christmas morning celebrations with their kids.”
Suelzle also said that people tend to overextend themselves and their obligations during the Christmas season. It’s important not to stray too far from your daily routine, he said.
Find time to give yourself breaks, she says.
“Make a night for yourself when you need to,” she says. But it doesn’t have to be a whole night. Suelzle also suggests shorter breaks. “Deep breathing if that’s something that works for you. A mindful moment if that’s something you also have experience with.”
Great Ideas for a Fun and Stress-Free Holiday Season
There’s also a lot of pressure to be in the holiday spirit, but psychologists say you don’t always have to be happy at Christmas.
“Many of us feel the need to put on a big fake smile and spread Christmas cheer everywhere, but it’s important to remember what our needs are. It’s OK to take time for yourself, it’s OK to say no,” Suelzle said.
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