It’s the most wonderful time of year…right? We look forward to this season with great anticipation. The holidays are filled with parties, laughter, music, food, and fun. But the holidays can also cause depression and anxiety for many of us. From the financial pressures of gift-giving to dealing with relatives you haven’t seen in years. From managing all the events, recitals, parties, and gatherings to dreading interactions with family members who are difficult or annoying. The holiday season can also evoke memories of past losses or insecurities, and revisit dysfunctional family dynamics.
Author David Levine, of U.S. News and World Report notes that despite this being “the season to be jolly,” many of us are unhappy during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. ¹
Thirty-eight percent of people say their stress level increases during the holidays, according to a study from the American Psychological Association. According to another survey by the Principal Financial Group, 53 percent of people feel financially stressed by holiday spending, even though 50 percent create budgets. ¹
Sometimes the stress of the holidays can come from the pressure to “be jolly.” “It comes down to expectations that run high for joy, for bringing the family together, for giving gifts that show how much you love those around you, for a beautiful meal,” says Debra Kissen, executive director of the Light on Anxiety CBT Treatment Center in Chicago and co-chair of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s public education committee. “Any time we set ourselves up with high expectations, it’s not going to work out that way.” ¹
Kissen calls it the “happiness trap.” “When we try too hard to be happy, we make ourselves miserable,” she explains. According to the APA study, the main stressors are money worries, lack of time, gift-giving pressures, family get-togethers, and a general sense of the over-commercialization of the holidays. ¹ Combine these concerns with the hassle of travel and the pressures of work responsibilities and you can see why holiday stress and depression can strike anyone. Holiday anxiety and depression can begin during the months leading up to the holiday season and persist afterward.
Dr. Carol A. Bernstein, professor of psychiatry and neurology at NYU Langone Health says that the sheer number of events at this time of year can contribute to holiday stress. “We like our routines and rituals, and all this is a change in that. Any external stress makes you more anxious,” Bernstein says. ¹
Here are some suggestions for reducing anxiety and stress during the holidays:
1 – Anticipate potential stressors
Kissen advises knowing your own triggers and planning ahead. “You don’t avoid a bumpy road, you just slow down and proceed with caution,” she says. “It’s the same with the holidays.” She recommends thinking back on past holidays and assessing your stress triggers. Which moments were the hardest? Which relatives did you have uncomfortable conversations with? Which events caused anxiety?
“We all have anxiety and stress, but what makes you stressed is personal,” Kissen says. “Pick your top two or three predicted stressors and have one or two action steps to help mitigate that stressor,” she says. For example, if you anticipate family members asking you questions about your relationship status or job situation, plan and practice a response you can give. “Decide ahead of time what to say and rehearse it, so if your life feels like a disaster, you have a way around it,” Kissen says. ¹
2 – Avoid or Limit Interactions
You can plan to avoid or limit contact with certain people. According to Bernstein, the key is to focus on your own behavior, rather than the behavior of others. “We all want the other person to change, but we don’t control that. If you know X, Y or Z is likely to happen, think about what that will be and what will you do for yourself,” she says. Planning ahead and being proactive are important. For example, if every year Uncle George tries to convince you that you belong to the wrong political party, plan ahead of time to not sit next to Uncle George. If you always feel trapped at your in-laws, schedule a trip to a museum or other local attraction to get out of the house. Or, if possible, stay at a hotel.
3 – Remember What Makes You Happy
Along with noting your stressors, focus on the things that bring you happiness during the holidays and try to maximize those moments. Maybe it’s singing in the community choir, baking cookies, or watching favorite holiday movies. Make sure to maintain your health, by eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising as often as possible. Try to find quiet time to relax by reading or listening to music, and monitor your alcohol consumption.
It also helps to have gratitude. “For this holiday season, my intention is to notice one thing I’m grateful for every day, or to put time and energy into connections who are the most important to me, or to use the time to recuperate from a long year,” Kissen says. “Don’t get caught up in all the endless to-do’s and stressors. Go into it with an idea of what you want to get out of it.” ¹
Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Holiday stresses are fairly common, but what if your stress has escalated into something more debilitating? Some people who are trying to manage their depression and anxiety through medication or talk therapy may still not find relief from their symptoms. If holiday stresses have escalated into major anxiety and depression or if you notice patterns of depression and anxiety at this time of year, ketamine infusion therapy may provide solutions.
Ketamine repairs damaged neural pathways that are thought to contribute to depression and anxiety. Ketamine is safe when administered correctly and has an industry-wide 85 percent success rate. Ketamine infusion therapy may be the answer for depression treatment, especially when other treatments have failed.
What is ketamine and how does it work to treat anxiety and depression?
#1: Ketamine repairs neural pathways that can become damaged when people experience anxiety, depression, pain, and stress. It works by blocking glutamine receptors in the brain that can become over-activated. Ketamine infusion therapy can be used to treat many neurological conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and suicidal thoughts.
#2: Ketamine is a safe, synthetic compound that has been used as a pain relief drug for more than 50 years. It is one of the World Health Organization’s most essential medications. Although not FDA approved, ketamine is effective in many patients when given in a carefully-monitored medical setting under strict protocols to ensure safe delivery.
#3: Ketamine infusion therapy has an industry-wide 85 percent success rate among patients. People who have found other medications and therapies ineffective may find success with ketamine therapy.
Go to TherapyReset.com for more information about ketamine infusion therapy, or visit our office in Ogden, Utah to schedule a free consultation with our licensed doctors.