During this time of year, radio and TV ads would have us believe we should all feel merry and bright. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Most people actually feel more stressed and overwhelmed during this time of the year. Additionally, according to the American National Institute of Health, many people experience depression during the holiday season.
Some of the most common reasons people experience depression during this time of year are:
- Financial hardship – ‘Tis the season to be jolly, unless your bank account is overdrawn and your credit cards maxed out. Not having a budget to buy loved ones presents, especially our children, can feel devastating.
- Stress – It’s easy to become overwhelmed from the added stress of shopping, planning and travel. Studies have found this is particularly true for women.
- Grief and loneliness – Many people feel incredibly lonely during the holidays. Whether it’s from being single, recently divorced, or having just lost a loved one, the holidays are often a reminder of what we don’t have but wish we did.
If you can relate and are looking for some relief, here are ways you can cope with your depression this holiday season:
Do not pretend to be better than you are
If you are grieving a loss, it’s important that you’re honest about your feelings. Your instinct may be to put on a brave face for friends and family, but forcing yourself to be happy for the sake of others will only make matters worse. The greater the discrepancy between how you feel and how you pretend to feel, the worse off you will be at the end of the day. Pretending is exhausting. Sadness and grief are a part of life, no matter the season, and it is 100% okay for you to feel your feelings.
Give something besides money
If a lack of finances is the primary source of your low mood, look for other ways you can give to others. You can volunteer at a local charity. Are you a good cook? Offer to cook for friends and family. Baking simple cookies and giving them as gifts wrapped in some fancy dollar store papers is more than enough to touch people’s hearts and lift your own spirits. If your talent is writing, write your kids a bedtime story or, if it’s painting, paint a beautiful mural on their wall. Making a sock puppet from an actual old sock and buttons left behind from clothes you no longer wear is sure to bring a smile to a kid and make you feel like you’ve accomplished something important. At the end of the day, thoughtful gifts from your heart will leave the greatest lasting impression and they will make you feel more fulfilled as well. Trust me!
Focus on self-care
It’s important that you care for yourself during the holiday season. Eat right, drink filtered water, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Make sure you find or make the time to do something you find important and meaningful, e.g., talking to family members and friends you’ve missed, volunteering, catching up on your favourite pastime. Don’t have one? Pick up a book or an adult colouring book, learn to meditate or to knit, look into learning how to play an instrument or go for a swim in a local pool – opportunities are endless. While these steps are important for everyone throughout the entire year, they are particularly important for those suffering from depression during the holidays. Spend your time wisely, don’t just stare at different screens morning to dawn. Too much screen time is guaranteed to make you feel worse.
Depression is nothing to take lightly. If your depression has lingered, is getting worse, or you’re having suicidal thoughts, it’s imperative that you seek help from a qualified mental health professional. They will be able to help you navigate your overwhelming emotions and offer tools to manage symptoms. You really don’t need to suffer. You can get better by the spring! Give yourself (and therapy) a chance.
If you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. You don’t have to suffer alone. I would be more than happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.