It’s the middle of the summer holiday season and often talked about as the most wonderful time of the year – countless songs and films that remind you of the fun you should be feeling. But, it can also be a challenging and stressful time, and people often feel guilty and confused with their feelings. I wanted to discuss the problems and some coping methods for stress, anxiety, depression and even relationships during this period.
When you are feeling in a bad place the feelings don’t just disappear because you are spending time by the sea or resting more. Whilst it can be helpful, allowing you to unwind more than usual and having a change of scenery can be very refreshing for the mind, holidays can create new difficulties.
A number of things can leave you feeling stressed, anxious, or sad during the holidays, including:
Pressure of perception – hyped up images of holidays
Hectic schedules (i.e., shopping, cooking, and traveling)
Away from routine
Family relationships and dynamics
Food and alcohol consumption
Pressure to meet demands
An expectation to “feel good” while ignoring true feelings
Holidays can also trigger unhappy memories (or memories of how much better things were), highlight what has changed in your life, eg, a divorce or loss of a loved one. Whilst you may be feeling a pressure to smile your way through the holiday season, it’s no wonder many people are left feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
Here are some ideas on how to help yourself through them:
Acknowledge How You’re Feeling Without Judgment – There’s no shame in feeling sad, stressed, or anxious around the holidays. There can often be so much going on, these feelings should almost be expected. Acknowledging and welcoming all emotions without judging yourself will pave the way to self-compassion. Instead of beating yourself up for how you “should” be feeling, give yourself a little break. Keep in mind that holidays, away from routine, can be a stressful time, and that whatever you may be feeling as a result is entirely acceptable.
Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations – Compromise is helpful here. As you know all too well, things do not always go as you imagined they would. And the higher you set your expectations, the more disappointed you will feel when they aren’t met.
Trying to make everything absolutely perfect is exhausting, frustrating, and doesn’t leave any time for actual enjoyment. The ultimate goal of the holidays should be to enjoy yourself and those around you, not a dust-free house or perfectly wrapped presents.
Take a Break from Social Media – too much hype and not reality, often giving the illusion that things are perfect for other.
Respect Your Needs – Making time to relax is very important. Take a step back and allow time for you.
Remember if you really struggle during the holidays whether at home or away, it won’t last forever and you will be back to your routine soon and the holiday will soon be a distant memory. There are always emergency helplines like www.samaritans.org and https://www.aware.ie/ that can be used if necessary. Hopefully these won’t be needed and you will enjoy spending some time away and come back feeling more refreshed. And if you think counselling would be useful, you can always speak to us, https://indublincounselling.com/contact/