Holiday Stress

Anxiety is common this time of year. Many people place inappropriate expectations on themselves from keeping up with social media influencers to handling increased family obligations, parties, financial concerns, and more. If you are ready to send out an SOS signal, know you are not alone. The goal of any holiday season should be peace and joy, but sometimes anxiety or depression can get in the way. It does not have to be this way! Tune in to Fox 17 this week as Dr. Bitner shares insights on navigating holiday stress and placing a focus on mental well-being throughout the festive season.

Fact #1: 

Know your risk factors for anxiety or depression. These include: 

  • Having a personal history of anxiety or depression
  • Family history of anxiety or depression
  • Sad anniversaries 
  • Perimenopause or menopause
  • Significant family or financial stress
  • Inappropriate expectations.


List out your risks, and look at them objectively. Make a worry list and solve it one by one. If you can’t solve it, face it with acceptance or get help from your primary care doctor or other HCP, therapist, or support group. Stress is every day; suffering is not.

Fact #2:

Treatment of anxiety or depression is possible and there are a number of options available, including:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Learn to cope by putting events in context and changing how you react with a licensed therapist.  
  • Lifestyle Changes. Exercise, eat lots of healthy protein and vegetables, and avoid excessive alcohol or marijuana. Our daily habits significantly affect how our body perceives outside stressors. Movement and exercise are natural uppers whereas sugar and alcohol can induce anxiety and depression. 
  • Sleep! When we sleep, we produce good brain chemicals and build resilience. Sleep should be priority number 1. Alcohol ruins sleep. If you plan to enjoy a cocktail or wine, make sure you hydrate and plan for extra sleep time. 
  • Medication is not a “cop-out”; it is a tool. If you have anxiety or a depressed mood that is interfering with your ability to cope or make good choices, it is an option to consider. All mood disorders get worse with age and stress. You might just need medication to get through the holidays, and that’s ok!

Patient Story: 

Jane felt apprehensive about December. It marked the fourth anniversary of losing both her parents in a car accident. Her children were also scattered across different cities, with celebrations scheduled at various times. Jane’s company was under financial stress, her job was not secure, and she was not sleeping because of night sweats. She was anxious and finding it hard to concentrate or get much done. Overall, her joy meter was low. Jane decided to make an appointment with her HCP. After meeting with her doctor, she started HRT and a low-dose anti-anxiety medication. Jane made a schedule for December with intentions for how she wanted to feel on January 1st, no matter what. Feeling hopeful and connected to her kids and husband would be her measure of success.

Health Tip of the Week: 

Know that you are not alone if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed this holiday season. Know your risk factors and set your intention of what is most important. Ask for help and stay connected to your people! 

If you think others are better off without you, know this is a temporary feeling and, most importantly, that it is NOT true. If you have thoughts of self-harm, call 988 and get immediate help from mental health professionals with the Lifeline network.


Watch the full segment.