The holiday season can be daunting for many, especially for those who live with depression and/or anxiety. This time of year is busy and stressful with shopping, preparing meals, and visiting. Although family members and friends may be aware that you live with a mental illness, they may not always completely understand how you are feeling. In fact, it can be extremely difficult for anyone who has not experienced depression or anxiety directly to relate. So, it is important to remember that although your loved ones have nothing but good intentions when they try to include you in all their celebratory events, sometimes you just have to say “no.”
One of the challenges many people with depression have is the ongoing desire to please others, not to let others down. Therefore, taking care of yourself at this family-oriented time of year can be a challenge since it may mean disappointing those you care about, which may lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety and sadness. As this busy season approaches, it may be beneficial to remind those around you about your own needs and concerns. Let them know that you need their support and understanding.
I am not suggesting that you should not try to be involved, in fact, I believe it is beneficial to be around others, to take part in family events — just not if it becomes harmful to your own health. Everyone is different and has varying needs and tolerance levels. Minimize your stress by reducing the expectations of yourself and others. Don’t worry about what others think. Don’t set yourself up for failure by overloading yourself with impossible goals and tasks. Small and simple gatherings can be just as enjoyable — they are often better.
You are the only person who really knows how you feel, so it is important for you to take care of yourself — your health has to come first. Sometimes that may mean staying home from an evening out or leaving early if you feel the need to. Or sneaking away to have some quite time alone in another room. I do want to emphasize the importance of being around loved ones, but it is also important to give yourself permission to decline an invitation or request if you feel the absolute need to. It is important to look after you!