The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but what do you do if they bring you feelings of intense sadness instead of joy? While the bustle of Christmas shopping and cheerful music sparks excitement in many people, those events may induce feelings of sadness or even a profound sense of loneliness for others. Holiday depression is a common and real condition that can make it difficult to get the most out of the season. However, there are a few things you can do to minimize your symptoms and power through the upcoming holidays.
1. Rely On Your Support System
You may be tempted to become withdrawn and aloof during the holidays, but make the effort to reach out to your support system. If you struggle with depression, but have the support of friends and family you have much better odds at overcoming depression than if you try to face it alone. As the holidays get closer, reach out to loved ones and let them know what you’re going through. They will be happy to lend a hand (or an ear) and give you the encouragement you need to remain centered during one of the most stressful times of the year.
2. Be Healthy
When you feel down, you tend to rely on unhealthy comfort foods and bad habits to help you feel better. In reality, overindulgence only compounds depression by adding to your feelings of guilt and anxiety. If you’re serious about preventing depression during the holidays, attempt to commit to maintaining healthy habits this year and see how it helps. Healthy habits include getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly and eating nutritious food.
3. Lower Your Expectations
A lot of people experience holiday depression because they expect too much from themselves and others during the holiday season. When you stop expecting the holidays to look and feel like a perfect postcard, your stress and disappointment levels will automatically decrease.
4. Don’t Overstuff Your Calendar
While it’s not a good idea to become a recluse during the holidays, it’s equally harmful to overstuff your calendar with an abundance of events. Remember what’s most important during this special time of year and avoid distractions. A quiet evening spent with family will help you feel more fulfilled than attending a busy shopping expo surrounded by stressed-out strangers.
5. Revamp Your Gift-Giving Policy
If you’re consistently over-spending on holiday presents every year, it can cause you to become overwhelmed and depressed. Keep this from happening by overhauling your gift-giving policy, if necessary. Whether you need to decrease the total number of gifts you buy or make cookies instead of giving neighbor gifts, do whatever is necessary to remain in your budget this year.
6. Ask for Help
Despite your best efforts, you may not have success preventing depression during the holidays. Thankfully, there is help available to you. Contact a local counseling facility to set up an appointment and have an assessment. Reaching out for professional help will not only benefit your overall mental health, but will also help those who are supporting you.
At Mazzitti and Sullivan, we want to help you live a more joyful, meaningful life by providing you with counseling services for holiday depression or other mental health issues you may be dealing with. Please fill out and submit our confidential online form. Depression is real, but so are our solutions.