December is a time of year that many individuals look forward to because of the holidays. Whether it is celebrating traditions, being around family and friends, or shorter work weeks - for the most part people enjoy this month. And while for many, this time of season is considered festive, fun and cheerful for others it can also be anxiety-provoking, depressing and emotionally exhausting.
Holidays often equate to engaging in family-oriented gatherings, which depending on family dynamics, can result in increased anxiety for some individuals. Worrying about mom's approval of a new boyfriend/girlfriend, wondering whether dad will continue to express his disappointment in your career choice, or stressing about your sibling(s) capability to understand how much help you need with caring for your parents, are a few examples of situations that can provoke anxiety thereby causing a person to dread the holiday season.
This time of year can also be depressing for individuals who lack familial support, are not involved in a significant relationship or are going through a life-hardship that prevents them from celebrating the season as they normally would. And while they may choose to not celebrate, commercial advertisements and/or innocent questions like, "What are you doing for the holiday?" or "Have you finished shopping yet?" etc., can serve as a reminder of what they don't have thus causing a negative association with the holiday.
Last but not least, emotional exhaustion is a common feeling many individuals experience during this time of year. Sometimes the mere thought of all the planning, traveling and socializing a person will have to do to prepare is enough to bring about a cloud of gloom. In other cases, memory of last year's disorder, dysfunction or drama can serve as a blockade to feeling cheerful about the holiday.
With all of that said, it is important to be aware of your feelings during this time of year and to not let it get the best of your ability to enjoy it or to function. Talking with friends and family you trust and/or with a therapist about your feelings can help you get to the bottom of what you are experiencing and learn ways to resolve it.
Does the holiday season increase your anxiety or make you depressed? How do you deal with it? Please share your thoughts below.
Christine M. Valentin
As a licensed clinical social worker, I help individuals caring for a loved one reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. This blog is meant to share with you, many of the suggestions I recommend to many family caregivers. Sign up to receive them directly.