How Do I Prepare for SAD Before the Holiday Season?

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The holiday season can bring about experiences that create extra stress and anxiety. The stress and anxiety of attending holiday events and seeing people you don’t necessarily want to see could set you on a path to feeling depressed and tempted to use substances. You might also experience thoughts of grief because there are friends and family that you can no longer see.

Additionally, when your stress and depression reach their apex, it might become hard for you to stop and regroup. Soon, you could succumb to the full weight of depression, anxiety, and negative impulses. However, this year, it could be helpful to prepare for seasonal affective depression (SAD) to prevent these negative thoughts from manifesting. Let’s look at some effective ways to address your SAD so that you can enjoy this holiday season.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Your feelings are a great compass for revealing when you’re stressed or anxious. For example, if you begin to react to situations with anger or anxiety, these emotions may not be attached to the situation, rather are more influenced by underlying stress. Seasonal affective disorders can happen at any point in the year; however, it works almost like a cycle. With summer drawing to a close and fall on the horizon, you may begin to sense heightened stress or irritability but don’t know why.

When you acknowledge these emotions, try to question why you have them, and you might discover that they are attached to the coming winter months. When you are able to identify the sources, you can then look back at past experiences to see if this is a pattern. If it is, you have the advantage of knowing that these feelings come with the onset of SAD, and therefore you can work to manage them.

Reach Out For Help

Reaching out to friends, family, and peers is a great way to help you process and share your feelings with others. You might discover that your loved ones are also experiencing the same feelings. Such communication can help everyone discuss their stress and work together to find alternative ways to enjoy the holiday season without the pressures of shopping, cooking, or drinking alcohol. It is always reassuring to know that you are not alone with how you feel.

Additionally, you might need professional help. If you understand that your SAD is a pattern that you can expect to occur around the same time each year, you should prepare to address and manage how you are feeling. Since many people take more time off during the holiday season, your therapist or counselor might do the same. Therefore, scheduling time to meet with them before the holiday season arrives will guarantee your spot in therapy. You might also want to consider scheduling multiple sessions to ensure that you get the professional help you need.

Be Realistic 

Part of the stress that can feed your SAD is knowing how much work, energy, and money go into preparing for the holiday season. Understand that the holidays do not need to be perfect; they might never live up to your idea of perfect anyway. It is also essential to accept that as families change and grow, the traditions might too.

Much like recovery, it is essential to set realistic goals and expectations. For example, maybe a loved one cannot make it home for a holiday, so look for the alternative instead of viewing this as something that will ruin it. Maybe they join the gathering virtually through video chat, or maybe they travel in following the holiday season. After the holiday, having something to look forward to can give you meaning and excitement over the winter season. The idea is to create new traditions and learn to adapt to any challenges, which begin with setting realistic goals and expectations.

Practice Saying No

Saying yes when you should say no could leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and resentful. Learning to say no will help your friends and family understand your limitations and boundaries, especially if they ask you to participate in every project or activity.

Learning to say no is effective for mental health and energy preservation during the holiday season, which will prove to be a powerful tool in recovery. When you say no, it should be because you prioritize your mental and physical well-being instead of neglecting your needs to please others. Further, when it is not possible to say no—like if your boss asks you to work overtime—try to prepare your schedule to a compromise to make up for the lost time.

The holiday season often embodies happiness, family, and connection; however, it can also be stressful, frustrating, and even lead to depression. If you are expecting a stressful holiday, then the time to get help is now. At Choice House, we offer treatment and therapy for men that will help aid in the preparation, resilience, and recognition of maintaining healthy emotions. Our approach motivates men and presents activities that help men effectively address their emotions. Such therapies and treatments include team-building skills and group therapies that will allow you to confront real-world scenarios and better prepare and manage your day-to-day long after treatment. Our inspiring Boulder, Colorado location will further help you explore your needs in a more peaceful and comfortable environment. Remember, whether it is the holiday season or another part of the year, your health and well-being should always come first. Find out more by calling us at (720) 577-4422