The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for some people, it can also be a time of stress and sadness. For many, the holidays can bring about feelings of depression, anxiety, envy, and even dread and despair, rather than joy and merriment. Depression can affect anyone at any time of the year, but the holidays can trigger or worsen depressive symptoms for many reasons. Some of these reasons include:
Social isolation. Some people may feel lonely or disconnected from others during the holidays, especially if they have a small social circle or lack opportunities for socialization. They may see others enjoying the festivities and wonder why they can’t feel the same way.
Grieving. Some people may be reminded of the loss of a loved one during the holidays, whether it’s a recent or a distant loss. They may feel the absence of their loved one more acutely and struggle to cope with their grief.
Pressure. Some people may feel overwhelmed by the expectations and obligations of the holiday season, such as buying gifts, hosting gatherings, or attending events. They may feel stressed about their finances, their time, or their relationships.
Family dynamics. Some people may have conflicts or tensions with their family members during the holidays, which can cause them to feel anxious, angry, or resentful. They may dread spending time with their relatives or avoid them altogether.
Seasonal changes. Some people may experience seasonal depression, also known as major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, which is a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter months. This is due to the reduced exposure to sunlight, which can affect the mood and energy levels of some people.
If you are experiencing any of these triggers or symptoms of depression during the holidays, you are not alone. Many people struggle with the holiday blues, and there are ways to cope and find support. Here are some tips to help you manage your holiday depression:
Practice self-care. Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can help you reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your resilience. Some examples of self-care activities are: getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, meditating, journaling, reading, listening to music, or doing something you enjoy.
Seek social support. Social support is the presence and assistance of people who care about you and your well-being. It can help you feel less lonely, more connected, and more valued. Some examples of social support sources are: friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, support groups, therapists, or online communities.
Set boundaries. Boundaries are the limits and rules you set for yourself and others in your relationships. They can help you protect your energy, your time, and your needs. Some examples of setting boundaries are: saying no to things that drain you, saying yes to things that energize you, asking for help when you need it, delegating tasks when you can, or leaving situations that make you uncomfortable.
Try something new. Trying something new can help you break out of your routine, challenge yourself, and discover new possibilities. It can also help you create new memories, learn new skills, or meet new people. Some examples of trying something new are: taking a class, joining a club, volunteering, traveling, or exploring a new hobby.
Seek professional help. Professional help is the guidance and treatment provided by trained and licensed mental health professionals, such as therapists, counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists. It can help you understand the causes and effects of your depression, learn coping skills, and receive medication if needed. Some examples of seeking professional help are: making an appointment, attending sessions, following recommendations, or taking prescribed medication.
Practice self-compassion this holiday season. Remember, depression is a common and treatable condition, and you don’t have to suffer alone. There are many resources and options available to help you cope with holiday depression and enjoy the season. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Featured Resource: Drugwatch; a free online health resource reviewed by the Health on the Net Foundation and The Physicians' Review Network Inc. Please check out their information on depression at: https://www.drugwatch.com/mental-health/depression/ . Also, they have updated their mental health guide to help those dealing with long-term or chronic mental health disorders.
Thanks for stopping by and happy holidays,