So many holidays at the end of the year! The holiday season is usually a stressful time for most people; it is even worse for those with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. However, there are ways to alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding the many events associated with the holidays. How do you manage the stressful festivities? What are your tips for surviving the holidays? Here are suggestions from readers of tips that have worked for them. Share What Works for You
a little at a time
- This is the worst time of the year for me. I get very tired and depression is very heavy. I try to organise Christmas a little bit at a time. Yesterday I made my stuffing, today I made my soup. There will be no other housework done on these days. If its not prepared beforehand I can only manage so much on the day. I do try hard to get it right but I have to appreciate that there is only so much I can do at this time of the year. The people I love are more important than all the trimmings and spending quality (unstressed) time with them is a priority for me.
- If we have our minds right....we shall survive the holiday stress.....just think for a moment...without Jesus there would be no Holidays...sooo thank God first and everyone will be just fine.
- —Guest Hope
- Last year was my first actual Christmas day not being in the hospital. I realized that my children and family expected me to be hospitalized every Christmas...and so did I. Last Nov. and Dec. I told myself that I would give myself as much breathing room as I possibly needed. I was outside more than I was inside visiting, and I was a nervous wreck, however I did make it through. This year is the same, I will allow myself as much breathing room as I need, and I have started a new tradition. Being home for the holidays!
finding solutions that work for me
- I'm bipolar and an Adult w ADD. Holiday decoration storage can be an issue if like my family you have a bit of something for even the smallest of Holidays. I'm sure you have all seen the colored storage containers for Holidays. If like me you have some but can't see replacing every container you have. Colored Duck Tape works great I placed large "X" on all sides so now matter how they are stacked you can tell what Holiday. I love to send Christmas Cards but always found I had lost someone's new address, someone got married ect. I found a common everyday inkjet printer label. One that can be bought at most stores. I started after Christmas last year entering names and address on the computer label template. I had to put effort into making sure I updated information as I received it. Well worth the effort. Every month I automatically had a amount put over in a savings account for Christmas. I remember my Mom had a Christmas savings acct. Its like an automatic budget.
- —Guest Judy
"Happy Guiltless Holidays"
- Learning to say "no" and feel the "guilt" lift ... then spend time on the Internet ... interesting, entertaining, inspirational websites ... with suggestions of what to do ... when you aren't able or help keep you busy anyway!
- —Guest Wild Computer Wife
only a choice few for me
- every year i make a point to send everyone i know christmas cards. however this year i am only sending a few. last year i sent out at least forty and only got three back. it was very depressing. also my tree is already up, prelit and not many decorations. it looks good. also this year for thanksgiving i am staying home with my son. we will be cooking dinner together. we spent last year waiting for a ride to pick us up all day and we had no food in the house cause we were told we would be picked up early. gifts havent decided on gifts yet maybe just my son and my two nieces. anyways make yourself happy everyday you have the power. ty for hearing me out . happy holidays.
Bought Gift Cards
- When I walked into the local Walmart last week I was immediately drawn to the Christmas Decorations area. After walking up and down the isles, looking at every little thing, my mind was running a thousand miles an hour! I was thinking I "should" buy this and that for him or her, get new decorations for my tree, invite everyone to my house for the holiday and then when I checked out, I purchased gift cards for all the young folks in my family thinking that I was doing a smart thing by getting a head start this year. Ugh! I was totally manic and did not realize it for a couple of more days and having spending money I should not have spent and having my mind run in circles. Oh great... Well, I have tried now to calm myself down, refuse to pick up magazines and look at them right now because they are covered in "ideas!" that will get me going on full tilt again. I am going to try to remember the wise words of SuzyScorp -- it is ONLY another day. Thanks for this article!
- —Guest Moodyintx
Take it day by day
- As a mom with a bipolar child/now teen, I take each day as it comes. I don't plan events as I have no idea what the day or even hour will be like. We don't plan parties and try to keep our shopping trips to a minimum. If it takes 5 different trips to shop at 1 or 2 hours each that's what we do. More than that can be overwhelming and cause all of us problems. By not having schedules and expectations the season becomes much smoother and enjoyable.
Getting rid of traditions
- I suffer from mania, not depression. I used to spread myself too thin over the holidays - saying yes to every event, planning too many details, getting the right gifts and spending a lot of time making a calendar where my relatives would send me pictures. It seemed like the project was more important to me and less appreciated by others - why do i have to badger them to send photos so I can make up the family calendar? This year, I'm not doing it. People will be surprised, but my response will be - it became too much work and I didn't get assistance.
- —Guest Chris
- FlyLady provides a great Holiday Control Journal that steps me through being organized! She even sends me emails starting early to help me keep focus. She encourages people to do their prep in babysteps all along the way, planning like they are going on a cruise for December. It makes the time immediately leading up to the holiday less stressful because so much is already done. She also gets you to stop and think about what parts of the holiday celebrations are actually important to you. http://www.flylady.com/images/HCJ2003.pdf
- —Guest Jake
Do something enjoyable!
- Since getting together with my brothers and sisters is a challenging situation I try to do something that I enjoy doing. I have started a tradition of painting an ornament for my great-neices and great-nephews and giving them to them at the family gathering. We only get together one time so it alleviates the stress of two holidays! When I pass out the ornaments it brings joy to me to see how the kids react. That makes the time spent much more enjoyable for me. Painting keeps my mind off of the negative things and focused on a task that I can see progress on each day!
Doing what I enjoy
- I love the holiday season, but it stresses me no end. I only do the things that make me happy. This sounds a bit selfish, but it really is necessary for me. I am Bipolar with Anxiety and on SSDI so I don't have much money to spend. I only buy gift cards for the grandchildren. I do the activities at church that I enjoy--I don't try to do it all. I adore Christmas music and play it a great deal as it calms and soothes me. I enjoy giving cards to others and this is not a stressor for me, we have a "post office box" at church so I don't have to spend much on postage. I spend time with my husband as there are family tensions with my daughter's family. He does the cooking. I stick like glue to my medication schedule and attempt to get some sleep (this is a problem for me). We put up a prelit tree, I do minimal decorating, and if my hubby wants lights outside, he does it. Things like this make me able to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas and not freak out too much.
- make others happy and love what you see in the mirror, spend time outdoors and do physical exercise that you enjoy.
If you don't enjoy it , why do it.
- —Guest jonathan
Making Realistic Choices
- I expect no contact from my children so that when they don't call me I'm not hurt. I put up simple to use decorations so that I'm not overwhelmed by the process. I only visit those who I know are kind and understanding. I fiercely protect the peace and privacy of my home by not letting disruptive people in. I stroll thru the mall w/my hubby, window shopping at my leisure, enjoying the people. When I start getting confused or tired I leave. When visiting, I leave when I'm ready, not when others may think it's acceptable. I've stopped making apologies for not having money to buy gifts. Above all, I make the effort to appreciate the home and husband that I have.
- —Guest Anniem
taking care of myself is the biggie...
- The holidays used to be a big stressor on me. I now try to take care of myself during the holidays while doing what I can of the family gatherings.
Taking my medication, sleeping regularly, and walking are things that I do to keep myself healthy.
Also, I stay away from relatives that I do not get along with -- like my sister (long story). It makes my holiday so much better if I do not have to spend it with people that stress me out. It took me years to finally come to this decision.
Another thing that helps me is to try not to worry about money. I am on SSDI and do not have the funds to spend on holiday stuff (food or presents) so I do what I can.
The most important thought I have about surviving the holidays is to take care of myself first. Things seem to be okay if I follow that mantra.