Tips to Cope With Holiday Depression

Asma Rehman, LPC

During November and December, most of us are winding down to enjoy a time of celebration and happiness. However, this is not always the case as holiday stress, and anxiety can increase one’s susceptibility to depressive thoughts and emotions. Depression therapists have found that many of our clients experience increased ranges of loneliness and lack of fulfillment during this season.

Stress and depression can devastate your holidays by hurting your emotional and physical health if you don’t plan and prepare for it. Financial pressures and holiday traditions can quickly lead you to a depressive meltdown. Take that along with a demanding list of Holiday errands such as shopping, cleaning, planning the party, and decorating, even the most upbeat of individuals will feel the effects seasonal depression.

So, how do you take control of your emotional state during this holiday season? Instead of dreading the upcoming festivities, how can you be ready when depressive triggers start to take over? Here are some practical planning tips to minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays:

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It’s Okay to Express Your Feelings

Holiday depression can often be brought on by the grief of a loss of someone close to you. If you have recently experienced a loss in the family or one of your closest friends, understand that it is normal to feel sadness. It is okay to mourn the holidays and express your feelings. As awkward as it may feel, you don’t have to force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.

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Do Not Isolate Yourself

Social isolation can attribute to depression and feelings of disconnectedness during the holiday season. People who have symptoms of depression, often avoid social gatherings and interactions. If you are wondering what can alleviate your feelings of loneliness, our depression therapists suggest to take up volunteering or to reach out to friends and family for support. There are many resources in your community to get yourself involved so you can overcome the feelings of loneliness. Look to serve others and be around people to lift your spirits this holiday season.

Read: New Year’s Resolutions Recommendations From a Therapist

Be Realistic About Your Expectations

Family traditions don’t have to be the strict and perfect year after year. With marriages, new children born, separations, and deaths, family dynamics can change all the time. Therefore, your expectations of rituals and traditions should grow and evolve as well to accommodate the changing circumstances. Learn to embrace the little nuances of the holiday season to create special memories instead of fretting over exactly how to dress the turkey this year. You will have a much more stress-free holiday to celebrate and be with your loved ones.

Let Bygones Be Bygones

Remember that the holiday seasons is a time to come together with your loved ones and celebrate the unity of love and friendships. Don’t let past hurts and grievances keep you from spending quality time with your family. Take the high road, and let bygones be bygones. Understand that no one is perfect and no situations are ideal either. Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you want them to, but it is okay to let them go and forgive others. That way you can move forward and relieve yourself of the stress that triggers to your holiday depression.

Have a Plan

Many of the clients of our depression therapists claim that one of the most significant pressures that cause depressive moods are the financial stresses. Make sure you create a budget and plan for what you will spend to accommodate what you can afford. Trying to replace sadness with gifts and lavish luxuries will only mask your depressive state for a short-term. Try instead, to plan special outings and visits with friends and family instead. Organize a special menu that will give you a specific shopping list so you can stick to your budget.

Learn To Say No

Being a yes-person comes with a lot of pressure that can lead you to end up feeling overwhelmed and bitter. When you say yes to something that you wanted to say no to, the guilt and shame that comes along with it are hard to overcome. It is not your obligation to cater to everyone else’s’ needs except your own. This holiday season, if you have a hard time declining someone’s request, be prepared not to be overcome with the anxiety of having to please everyone.

Stay Consistent With Healthy Habits

Just because it’s the holiday season, it doesn’t mean that you should binge on unhealthy food choices and live vicariously for the next month. Don’t let the celebrations throw your healthy habits off and end up adding to your guilt and stresses. Here are some activities to keep in mind while you are winding down to the holiday gatherings:

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  • Eat a healthy snack before any holiday parties so that you do not overindulge in sweets and alcohol.
  • Take a walk outside to restore peace and calm while you are at an office Christmas party.
  • Continue any regular physical activities you were doing before, or take up a new one such as cardio kickboxing to channel any stresses that are bringing your mood down. The American College of Sports Medicine has recommended at least 30 minutes, three times a week of moderate-vigorous intensity exercises, to reduce symptoms of depression significantly.
  • Book a massage or a soothing spa day, or just pamper yourself for a do-it-yourself spa night by yourself.

Self-care during the holidays can be difficult to schedule into your already crazy agenda, but it is vital to maintaining a regular sleep pattern, exercise, and a nutritious diet to keep your mood balanced.

With a bit of planning and tips on how to get through the holiday season from our depression therapists, you too can enjoy this year’s celebrations with more peace and happiness. If you want more help and tips to enjoy this holiday season more, you can contact us at the Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX for more info today.

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