Coping with Holiday-Related Stress
It's not always the most wonderful time of the year. For many women, the holidays can induce stress and depression while keeping everyone happy. Here's how to avoid a blue Christmas.
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For many women, the holiday season represents an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones, a time to create pleasant memories, and to make up for the other part of the year that we may have felt we were not being a good enough mother, wife, daughter, sister or friend. We send holiday cards to people we may not have been in contact with for months (if not years), buy expensive gifts to show our loved ones how much we care, bake cookies for our children’s teachers and our co-workers, adorn our homes in holiday regalia and spend a lot of our time entertaining family and friends. We may feel completely responsible for all the planning and execution of our families’ holiday traditions, and we feel responsible for our families’ happy, particularly around the holiday season when we try so hard to make others' experience of the holidays perfect. And asking for help, even outside of the holiday season, is difficult for many of us to do.
With the kind of expectations we pile upon ourselves, it's no surprise that many women experience an increase in depression, anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, exhaustion and changes in weight and appetite during the holiday season. Several psychological studies indicate that women struggle with stress-induced depression more than their male counterparts, and women are more likely to experience depression resulting from seasonal affective disorders caused by a decrease in daylight. Furthermore, the holiday season can stir up profound feelings of grief and mourning due to sadness associated with loved ones who have died or family members who can not be with us because of divorce, family strife, or distance.