How To Navigate Depression During The Holidays
The holiday season is often described as “the most wonderful time of the year,” but when you’re struggling with depression it can feel like anything but. The holidays can be one of the most stressful times of year and can trigger various mental health issues and setbacks.
Luckily, there are many ways that you can keep your mental health intact and enjoy the holiday festivities at the same time. So, before you decide to skip spending time with your loved ones this Christmas, check out our tips to manage your depression and have some fun this season.
African family with adult children drinking champagne. (via Getty)
Don’t Isolate Yourself
This becomes the go-to response to those suffering from depression, but it’s not the answer. You may think that isolating yourself from everyone during the holidays is the most logical way to combat your depression, when actually it can make things worse.
You don’t have to be around people 24/7, but you should definitely take some time out during the holidays to socialize with those close to you. You’d be surprised how much better you feel when you step outside your comfort zone and let others into your world…even if only for a little while.
Make Plans In Advance
Stress is the worse thing when dealing with depression, and the holidays can often be seriously stress-filled. In order to make sure your holiday season runs smoothly, make all of your holiday plans in advance.
By doing this, you decrease the risk of stressing yourself out or having a meltdown when things don’t go as you would like. Additionally, it’s important to remember that even when you do plan, things happen and you need to plan for the unexpected as well.
Have De-Stressing Techniques In Place
When the stress from the holiday season simply becomes entirely too much to handle, you need to make sure you have a way to let go of it all.
Have a collection of things in place that you use to de-stress yourself and implement those whenever you need a break from all things holiday-related. Whether you de-stress nightly, weekly or monthly, taking time out to rid yourself of things that trigger your depression is key.
Don’t Succumb To The Holiday Pressure
For many, the holidays can be extremely overwhelming and one of the main reasons is due to holiday pressure. Holiday pressure is when you are bombarded with things to do, attend, buy and try during the holidays…even when you really don’t want to.
Don’t let your family and friends guilt you into overextending yourself when what you really should be doing is going at your own pace. Do as much as you can this holiday season, not what others dictate you should do.
Never Be Ashamed To Ask For Help
Even though things are getting better, sadly, there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues. This attitude means that many sufferers are turned off from asking for help out of fear they will be ridiculed and shamed.
Don’t let this be you. If at anytime during the holidays you feel like you need the help of someone else, ask freely and without shame. You reaching out can be the difference between successfully working through your issues or sinking further into your depression.
Remove Yourself From Negativity
Family gatherings are plentiful during the holidays, but that also means that the probability of family arguments increases. When you’re dealing with depression, you certainly don’t need to be around any unnecessary negativity.
Before you find yourself in the middle of heated arguments, bad attitudes (or God forbid physical altercations,) kindly remove yourself from the drama. Your mental health is the most important thing you should be focusing on.
Prepare For Post Holiday Syndrome
Perhaps you didn’t know it had a name, but that sad feeling you get after the holidays are over is real. Post Holiday Syndrome is a very common feeling, but when you already suffer from depression it can be worse than normal.
Prepare yourself for this by utilizing your de-stressing techniques regularly, as well as indulging in various forms of self-care. This helps you get over the post holiday blues and start the New Year off right.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
The holiday season is filled with multiple goals and high expectations, however this can be a recipe for disaster when things don’t turn out quite like you planned. That’s why it’s crucial to keep your holiday expectations realistic in an effort not to trigger your depression.
Understand that not everything will go perfectly and mishaps will occur, but that doesn’t mean that you lack anything or that you did something wrong. Don’t bombard yourself with guilt over things you can’t change.
Don’t Overextend Yourself Financially
If there is one thing that most of us are guilty of during the holiday season, it’s spending too much money on gifts. This over-extension of your finances may seem like no big deal in the moment, but when the holiday bills roll in during January it can totally make you depressed.
To avoid this, don’t spend more money than you have on gifts for others or even yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have to slight anyone, just stick to a budget and select more thoughtful gifts instead of expensive.
Take A Time-Out When Necessary
We all could use a time-out every now and then, so definitely don’t be ashamed to take as many as you like during the highly stressful holidays.
If family, friends, shopping, planning, etc., is taking too much of a toll on you, feel free to take a time-out at any interval you need. This keeps your stress low and prevents you from having a streak of depression because you’re overwhelmed.