Coping with Christmas

How to manage depression and anxiety over the festive season

It’s supposed to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, but for many people Christmas can be one of the most stressful periods of their year.  

If you suffer from depression or anxiety you may experience more emotional triggers than usual. Things like; family conflict, financial stress and feelings of grief may be intensified during this time of year. 

It’s important to remember that you are not alone if you dislike the holiday season. Even if it seems like everyone around you is getting into the festive spirit, it’s perfectly normal if you don’t feel the same way. 

Here’s some things you can try to help alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression over the holidays. 

 

  1. Manage your expectations

Remember, you have the power to decide how you spend the festive season. So if living up to other people’s expectations and ideals around Christmas doesn’t work for you, just say no!

  • If attending social events or family gatherings causes stress, politely decline invitations.
  • Try not to put extra pressure on yourself to live up to other people’s ideals of christmas. 
  • Participate in the parts you like about Christmas and ignore the parts you don’t.

 

  1. Handle family tension

Family reunions at Christmas can quickly become a source of anxiety if there are unresolved conflicts or other underlying issues. Here’s what you can do if there’s tension in your family:

  • Set boundaries for yourself and leave the situation if conflict arises. 
  • If there’s a sensitive topic in your family don’t bring it up. 
  • If you have kids, try and make the day about them. 
  • Try and limit the amount of alcohol you consume, as this can also intensify depressive feelings and anxiousness. 

 

  1. Combat loneliness

If you’re feeling isolated or have lost a loved one, the holidays can intensify feelings of grief and loneliness. Here’s a few things you can try to feel more connected at Christmas time: 

  • If you have friends or family that live long distance pick up the phone and call.
  • Check out any local community events or volunteer for those in need. 
  • Plan your day out in advance so you’re doing something you enjoy, doing this might help to alleviate feelings of sadness on the day.  

 

  1. Stay healthy 

While it may be tempting to indulge in excessive carbs and alcohol at Christmas time, it’s important to try to eat and drink healthily. 

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as much you can. Excessive alcohol or caffeine will only exaggerate sadness if you’re already feeling blue and raise anxiety levels.
  • Steer clear of excess sugar.
  • Ensure you get enough sleep, rest and exercise. 

 

  1. Managing anxiety associated with MTHFR mutation

If you know you have a mutation in your MTHFR genes, it’s even more important to manage your diet and remember to take your supplements to help reduce anxiety during the holiday season. 

  • Remember, anxiety can be caused by a number of factors, not just an MTHFR mutation. 
  • If this is a known issue for you, managing your folate and B12 levels is essential. 

 

If you’re not sure if you have a mutation in your MTHFR genes (the genes that regulate your folate levels) and you’re curious to learn more, take a look at our What is MTHFR video

If you’d like to join a community of people who are taking control of their mental and physical health, as well as receive information and other resources, join our Patient Resource Center. You can sign up here.