Take steps to prevent holiday depression

It has begun. The final remnants of the Thanksgiving meal have been discarded. Packages from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sit on your couch or kitchen table waiting to be wrapped. Invitations to open houses and holiday parties are coming in the mail. Christmas concerts at school and church are populating the calendar. Yes, the holidays are back again!

For lawyers, the innumerable additional tasks and responsibilities of this time of year are heaped on top of the demands of clients, courts and opposing counsel. Time, energy and, for many, enthusiasm are in short supply.  Stress, anxiety and persistent feelings of “I’m not doing enough” all feed into the experience of depression that affects so many of us during the holidays.

Here are a few suggestions on creating a shift in your approach to the seemingly insatiable demands of this time of year:

  • Set your priorities for the holidays. Take a moment to determine the most important thing for you to do or experience before returning to life and work “as usual” in January. Break this goal down into discrete tasks and put those on your calendar. Or, write your top priority down and put it on your computer, the frame of your office door, on your dashboard, etc.  For instance, if your goal is “spending more time with the kids,” consider your decisions regarding what you do and what you decline in light of that goal.
  • Say “no” to non-essential tasks and events that conflict with that priority. If you don’t have the power to decline, try postponing until after Jan. 1 when possible.
  • Commit to taking care of yourself.  Don’t let exercise fall by the wayside. Do focus on healthy, not heavy, foods. Predetermine how much alcohol you will drink at events and stick to that commitment so you don’t waste time with a hangover or ruin goodwill over offensive behavior.

If stress, anxiety or depression become too much for you over the course of the holidays, give yourself a “time out.” Push back from the desk and take a walk outside. Try to determine the root cause of your distress and, if possible, modify the situation. Enlist the help of those around you in making your situation better.

Remember that the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program is here for you. We can help you identify the cause of your distress and come up with a plan for addressing it in a healthy manner.  Call 1-800-343-8527. All communications are strictly confidential.

Bree Buchanan, J.D., Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

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