Having a mental illness can make so many things harder. One of those things are the holidays. As sad as that is, the holidays can make depression spiral downwards. So, let’s talk about depression and the holidays.
As I shared last month about a not fun Thanksgiving, I have tried my hardest to keep the holidays lighter and put less pressure on myself. I sure learned a lot from that Thanksgiving.
Here are 4 ways that you can do to help you with depression and the holidays.
Know yourself and what you are capable of. Do you want to send out Christmas cards? Do you have to do neighbor gifts. What about gifts for every person in your life? Want to try ALL the yummy goodies?
If worrying about taking pictures, getting the cards designed, and addressing ALL OF THOSE ENVELOPES stresses you out then DON’T DO IT! No one is going to care about it. I promise.
It sure is fun to get the random neighbor gifts. My kids love it especially. But, it money is tight or it makes you crazy then you do not need to put yourself through that stress. Make sure you give a heartfelt thank you to your neighbors. Then move on.
There are so many people I could give gifts to in my life. I love so many. But here’s the thing I really try to keep my gift giving to a minimum.
Here’s why… For a long time money was tight and it stressed me out financially to spend so much money. Once I started it was hard to know where to draw the line. While I absolutely love getting thoughtful gifts for loved ones I just can’t get them for everyone.
Here are some ideas to help limit the number of people you buy gifts for:
- Draw names for a circle of friends
- Have a rotation with your siblings
- Throw a favorite things party where everyone brings one gift including some of their favorites. Everyone brings one gift and leaves with one gift.
- Do little things throughout the year when you see something you know someone will love. For no reason. It’s super fun!
Let’s talk about the goodies that surround this holiday season! So many fun treats to make and eat. It can be overwhelming. I know many people have their favorites that they make each year. That’s a fun tradition.
Maybe you make one new holiday treat each year. Here’s a good one to try… Or you can host a baking party where everyone brings their favorite treat. That way you can try a lot of different things without having to make them all.
You have every right to say no. You do not have to do everything everyone asks you to do all of the time. This is a sure fire way to burn yourself out. If you have nothing to give then that is a recipe for disaster.
The easy solution? Just say no. It is totally okay to say no to a party, or helping to bring food, or watching your neighbor. You also do not have to give a reason why you are saying no.
When I first started saying no more it was HARD! I felt guilty, I felt horrible for not helping more. But, once I started to calm down with those negative feelings I started to actually feel BETTER.
WHAT?! I know, it sounds totally crazy. But it is true. Once I started saying no (I’m not saying I said no to everything, just the things that would have put me over the top or things I really didn’t want to do.) I had more time for me and my family.
Isn’t that where we need to give our best to anyways? My family and I deserve a less tired and less stress me. Learn to say no and you will feel some amazing growth.
Plan, Plan, Plan
This one might be hard if you are not a planner. Don’t skip this part, please hear me out. Okay, rant over.
What would happen if you just went and bought whatever you wanted for the people on your list? Let’s say you are married and your spouse does the same? Would you over spend on someone and not enough for another person?
Or perhaps you just keep saying, “I’ll get to it tomorrow or next week.” Before you know it, it is Christmas Eve and you have little to nothing done.
You wake up one morning with a huge list of things you need to accomplish and you just start to shut down. It’s too hard. There is too much to do. You can’t possibly do it before Christmas comes…
These are just three examples of why planning will help keep your depression and the holidays in check.
Here are some ideas to help you plan your holidays shopping, baking, gift giving, and parties:
- Plan the date of any holiday parties you want to throw well before the date.
- Have your kids write letters to Santa , give them a toy catalog where they can circle what they want or go look at toys with them to get ideas of what they want.
- Make a list of everyone you need to get gifts for; include ideas, actual gifts, and the price of the gift.
- Go on a gift buying date with your spouse or significant other. This will help keep you on the same page. Or sit down together to order the gifts you need on line. Here, here, and here are some gift giving guides I have prepared.
- Keep a running list of people you give gifts to in your neighborhood, send cards to, and all other gifts you need to buy. You can add to it or change it each year.
- Get a self inking address label. Totally has changed my life when sending mail out. I got mine here.
- Create (or have your super organized sister in law email hers to you…) a address label word doc that is ready to print on the sticky address labels. It is so much easier to change address throughout the year or get updates before you plan to get your cards out.
- Plan something big to do each week in December. We usually try to get our cards out the first week in December, all shopping down the second or third week, wrapping done another week, etc. Spread your big things out so you don’t have a very busy and crazy week.
- You can make a holiday bucket list with or without your family. We haven’t started this but I think we might next year. Of course I will add all the things we “need” and want to do. 🙂
- Bake one thing a week and freeze it for later.
- Say no. 🙂
- Take your family on vacation as their gift so you don’t need to do so much. Someday, when our kids are older I’d love to do this.
Do What You Can And Forget the Rest
I know, I know! You don’t want to let people down. You think you can do it all…. In reality you are one person. You don’t need to do it all. And I’m pretty positive you will not let everybody down.
The whole point of this post is to help you make sure depression and the holidays do not get the better of you and drag you down the black spiral. Just do your best and forget the rest!
Make the best of what you can do. Focus on the things you choose to do and make it grand. Don’t feel like you need to apologize to anyone. I
bet know that the people you love and love you back would rather a whole and healthy version of you then a robot or depressed you.
What do you plan to let go this holiday season? What do you plan to do? If there is anything else you do to help you during this time of depression and the holidays please share with us in the comments.
Happy holidays and memory making with your loved ones.