The holidays are supposed to be ‘the happiest time of the year’…or at least that’s what we’re told. Not everyone feels the holiday spirit. This time of year can be especially difficult for those dealing with the loss of a loved one, family conflicts, financial stress, loneliness or just generally overwhelmed.

There are a lot of seasonal factors that can trigger depression and anxiety during this time of the year. We’ve put together a list of common holiday-related triggers to help you or a loved one cope this holiday season.

The Trigger: Your Budget

The holidays are associated with overeating and overspending. Many people feel obligated to spend money on presents, food, and travel which can leave you feeling financially strained. Finances are a very common source of stress for many people year-round. Adding all of the holiday expectations on top of that stress can really trigger anxiety.

The Plan: Set a budget and stick to it! Opt for homemade gifts and share your talents with the special people in your life. Make the holidays more meaningful by giving your friend the gift of coffee and a chat, or your husband a movie night at home…don’t forget the popcorn! Remember that the holidays are about sharing love, traditions, and connecting- not presents.

The Trigger: Family/Friends

Once again, we’re told that the holidays are supposed to be about gathering and celebrating with family and friends. This isn’t always the case. Some families have deep trauma. Relationships are broken. People can be toxic.

The Plan: In these cases, it’s OK to make yourself a priority and set healthy boundaries. If you’re looking to repair relationships, try to do so in a one-on-one environment before the big holiday dinner. Your mental health matters. Lead with an open mind but maintain relationships that are healthy and life-giving. You can’t be constantly drained by difficult and needy people without having your batteries charged by healthy relationships.

The Trigger: Loneliness & Isolation

For people struggling with depression or who lack social support, the focus on family and community gatherings can bring on feelings of loneliness. Sentimental memories of past holidays can trigger depression.

The Plan: Keep a lookout for free community events and gatherings. Connect with friends. Volunteer your time and meet new people. Above all, if you know you have a tough time with the holiday season, ask people to check in with you.

If you are struggling this holiday season, don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Our team here at TMS Huntsville is rooted in compassion and we care about fellow members of our community. We’re here for you through the holidays and beyond because no one should have to cope with a mental illness alone.