Meeting The Challenges Of Holiday Depression

in Understanding Depression

Holiday Depression

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time filled with family, friends and cheer, so the idea of depression and the holidays being related may seem like something that should never happen.

In truth, many – if not most – people find themselves more stressed during this time of year, and stress can exacerbate symptoms of depression.

If you suffer from clinical depression, holiday stress can be especially challenging as you try to navigate the parade of guests, shopping trips and party invitations, not to mention the stress of hosting a party if that responsibility happens to fall on you.

Instead of looking forward to the holiday season, you may feel more like running away and hiding until the festivities are all over.

TickStratagies For Coping With Depression During The Holidays

The first step in managing what may be thought of as holiday depression syndrome is to identify the specific factors that make the holidays especially stressful for you.

Most likely, the reason that your depression increases during the holiday season has to do with one (or more) of several things.

It may be related to some aspect of your relationships with others, or it may be due to feeling physically overwhelmed with the demands that come up during this time of year.

It may also be due to the financial pressures brought on by holiday expenses.

Relationships And Depression During The Holidays

Unhappy FriendsYou may find that your depression increases at holiday time either because you have to spend time with people that really challenge you or, conversely, because you are alone.

During the holidays, family members often come together out of a sense of obligation rather than a genuine desire to get together.

If you have issues with certain members of your family, you are bound to find that your stress level increases when you are together for a holiday gathering.

You can deal with this by minimizing your contact with people that challenge you and focusing on the time you spend with people whose company you enjoy.

At the same time, try to let go of differences and resentments that you may have and accept people for who they are, even when they aren’t what you ideally would like them to be.

Being alone can also increase feelings of depression during the holidays. If this is the case for you, try taking this time to focus on your relationship with yourself, something you may overlook most of the year.

Treat yourself to a shopping trip, some holiday treats or a day at the spa. Enjoy your favorite holiday music, and try not to get caught up in the holiday frenzy that surrounds you.

Stress Management During The Holidays

Holiday PlannerThe physical demands of shopping, socializing, cooking, baking and hosting parties can be exhausting.

If you have a history of depression, it’s likely that fatigue is a symptom you already experience, so adding the stress of the holidays to the mix can be especially taxing.

Planning ahead can help minimize stress.

Make to-do lists for each day and schedule some break time in between tasks so that you won’t feel rushed and overwhelmed. Don’t try to take on more than you can handle either.

If you’re asked to attend a party or participate in a gift grab bag and you feel that you already have as many commitments as you can handle, explain this politely and just say no.

Suggest getting together with some people after the holidays or go in with others on gifts for family members.

Don’t Forget Yourself

All of the stress management techniques that apply at other times of the year are even more important to practice during the holidays.

It’s easy to over-indulge in sweets and alcohol while letting your exercise routine slide at this time of year.

Remember to eat regular, healthy meals and get some exercise each day. Practice stress management techniques like deep breathing, yoga or tai chi or treat yourself to a relaxing massage or an herbal tea break.

Also be sure to get enough sleep each night.

Stick To A Budget

Tight BudgetYou may feel the need to keep up with those around you when buying gifts for family and friends, especially if you have children with high expectations.

Try shifting your perspective so that you don’t make the holidays about material things.

Set a budget and stick to it. Buy gifts that you can afford, or perhaps make some gifts or offer to do things for people instead of purchasing things for them.

People tend to remember the experiences they have with others long after they’ve forgotten what gifts others have given them.

Volunteer To Help Others

This is especially helpful if you’re alone during the holidays. Reach out to a community organization that needs a helping hand. Serve a meal at a shelter or volunteer to wrap gifts for charity.

If you are a member of a church or religious organization, you can probably find out about volunteer opportunities there.

Getting out and helping others will help minimize depression during the holidays by allowing you to focus on people less fortunate than you.

It will also give you an opportunity to meet and socialize with other volunteers.

Keep Expectations Realistic

Don’t buy into the hype that you see on television, in magazines or in store windows.

Stories and images of perfect families enjoying time together with smiles and warm, fuzzy feelings can steal your mood quickly and make you feel worthless if you don’t have the “perfect holiday” experience yourself.

Remember that the holiday season is not an all or nothing proposition. You may enjoy a party one day and feel depressed the next, but in the end, you will probably find that there were some very bright spots along the way.

Don’t expect to be happy just because the holidays have arrived. Allow your feelings of sadness, stress or depression, but don’t dwell on them.

Instead, use the tips in this article to put together a strategy for meeting stress head on and minimizing your feelings of holiday depression.

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