8 Tips for Coping with Anxiety and Depression This Season

By Maryrose Bauschka, MD

For individuals who struggle with mood and anxiety disorders, the holiday season can be particularly challenging. Oftentimes, it can be rife with high expectations, financial stress and many commitments.

This can ultimately lead to a variety of symptoms, including disrupted sleep, worrying thoughts, tension, irritability, depression, loneliness, fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal distress and more. It’s important to pay attention to the signals your brain and body send you during this time and reach out for extra support if you need it.

What can you do to manage the impact of the holidays on your anxiety level and mood?

  1. It is more important than ever to attend to self-care with joyful movement balanced with adequate rest, maintaining a regular sleep routine, consistent nutrition and hydration, and taking medications for any physical or mental health conditions as prescribed.
  2. Stay connected (safely) with friends and families.
  3. Avoiding alcohol or non-prescribed drugs is key, as these substances may “take the edge off” but simultaneously worsen mood or anxiety symptoms.
  4. For many people, the shorter days and lack of sunlight can have a negative impact on mood, so it may be worth considering light therapy. Light therapy is relatively safe, but it is always worth checking with your doctor first to ensure it will not interact with any medications or other medical conditions.
  5. For those who struggle with anxiety, it can be helpful to schedule “worry time” each day so that your entire day does not become consumed with exhausting feelings of worry.
  6. Set realistic expectations for yourself (both in terms of time and budget if you plan to do holiday shopping) to ensure that you do not take on more than you can handle.
  7. Consider pauses throughout the day for breathing exercises, body scans or other relaxation activities, or for simply checking in with yourself to see how you are feeling and what you need in that moment.
  8. Lastly, reach out for support, whether it be a crisis or support line, a virtual support group, a doctor or mental health professional, or a friend or family member.

Learn more about our resources to support those with mood and anxiety disorders, and their families:

mood & anxiety disorders
Written by

Maryrose Bauschka, MD

Dr. Bauschka is a board-certified psychiatrist who works with Pathlight’s multidisciplinary treatment team to deliver direct psychiatric care and medication management, primarily in the Binge Eating…