Psychologist shares holiday coping mechanisms to handle seasonal anxiety, stress and depression

Updated: Nov. 25, 2019 at 10:57 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - If you have trauma or difficult relationships, often times the holidays can remind you of those things. Because of this, many people struggle with anxiety, stress or depression during the holiday season.

Dr. Amanda Wheeler, a psychologist at the Texas Tech Student Counseling Center, said there are many reasons being home for the holidays can be hard for people.

“A lot of people have those family members that might rub them the wrong way or might provoke them in some way,” Dr. Wheeler said.

From engaging with difficult family members to unmet expectations.

“That idea that it’s supposed to be joyful and grateful and wonderful, and sometimes expectations don’t always match reality,” Dr. Wheeler said.

Even the gloomy winter weather can produce feelings of sadness.

When dealing with the stress, anxiety or other emotions that accompany the holidays for many, Dr. Wheeler said it is important to know what your triggers are.

“Having that discussion with parents ahead of time, before even getting home, can be really helpful because then those expectations are in place and then you’re not fighting with your family as soon as you walk through the door,” Dr. Wheeler said.

Dr. Wheeler said it would also be helpful to have a friend or safe place to escape.

“Allowing yourself to get away, whether that’s getting away to your own private space, whether it’s driving around, whether it’s being with other people.” Dr. Wheeler said.

Dr. Wheeler said it is important to say no to things that are unhealthy, and say yes to things that bring you joy and to set appropriate boundaries.

“If your family members or people are getting into conversations that you know is not healthy for you, being able to get up and walk away is a huge skill to have,” Dr. Wheeler said.

Dr. Wheeler said sometimes just acknowledging your emotions can help relieve them.

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