This year, give yourself the best holiday gift ever: more merry, magical moments and fewer frazzled ones. Here are five ways to make this year's celebrations high on joy and low on stress — and help you keep the happy in the holidays. If you're still feeling blah or you think a loved one may be suffering from social anxiety,seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or a more serious case of depression, read on for practical tips and where to turn for help.
- Ratchet down those expectations. Chasing after picture-perfect get-togethers can create the perfect storm of stress. It's okay (really!) if your guests arrive while you're still setting the table, if you burn the carrots or if the sweater you bought for your favorite cousin is the wrong size. Things happen, even during the holidays. Keep that in perspective, and do your best to relax and enjoy.
- Trim your to-do list. Go ahead — cross out at least one or two things that are likely to make you frantic. You don't have to say yes to every invitation that comes your way or bake cookies from scratch when you can easily buy yummy ones. Make what matters most — time spent with friends and loved ones — your priority.
- Catch your breath. Your default holiday behavior may be to go into overdrive and cheat yourself out of restorative me-time. But chances are, you need that downtime now more than ever. Stress can cause your immune system to stand down, leaving you more susceptible to catching colds and flu.
Carve out at least a few minutes every day to recharge. Do something that gives you pleasure — for example, unwinding with music or calling a faraway friend. And if you do come down with a bug, get diagnosis and treatment through your computer or mobile device without leaving home or the office. Save $10 off your first virtual visit with code BLOG10 at Medical City Virtual Care.
- Lend a hand.Spread some holiday cheer by volunteering for your favorite charity — maybe a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. Helping out may lift your spirits and put you in that special holiday mood.
- Resist the temptation to overspend.Ultimately, you're only setting yourself up for post-holiday stress. Scale back, and remind yourself that the real holiday spirit doesn't revolve around pricey gifts.
If you enjoy making crafts or baking, consider giving some homemade gifts. Or, give the gift of your time: Wrap up a homemade coupon for some babysitting hours — weary parents will be grateful. You can also offer to clean the home of an elderly person or someone recovering from an illness. These types of gifts are easy on the budget and often greatly appreciated.
Where to get help during the holidays or anytime.
If the tips above aren't enough to make you merry, consider getting professional help. Some of the signs that you should see a doctor include:
- Feeling sad or hopeless for more than 2 weeks
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, including struggling to be around people
- Changes in sleep patterns, appetite or weight
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death, suicide or self-harm
Medical City Green Oaks Hospital offers 24-hour emergency psychiatric care, as well as inpatient and outpatient services for the full continuum of mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Their 24-hour helpline is (972) 770-0818.
Medical City McKinney also offers 24/7 emergency psychiatric care as well as adult and senior inpatient behavioral health services for a wide range of mental health conditions. Call (972) 547-8888 for admission information.
For help in any crisis, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.
Sources: American Psychiatric Association; National Institute of Mental Health; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic