HEALTH DIVA: How to Cope with Holiday DepressionBy Dr. Janna Andrews | December 17, 2012 | Entertainment, Get Fit
The holidays are a joyous time for most. Families come together for memorable moments. New and old traditions are honored and created. It’s such a festive time of the year, it’s hard to believe that some people don’t or can’t enjoy the holidays. For some, the holidays conjure up memories of loved one that have passed or feelings of stress and isolation. For others, the holidays are consistently a series of unmet, potentially unrealistic expectations. While everyone else seems happy and worry free, some of our friends are actually depressed. A few preemptive moves can help ward off or minimize holiday depression.
If you know that you are prone to feelings of sadness around the holidays, acknowledge your feelings, but also acknowledge your need for support. If you don’t feel comfortable asking for support from family or friends, think about seeking out a support group or religious outlet. Consider beefing up on any coping mechanisms that you use throughout the year. Do your best to avoid your triggers.
Do your best to be flexible. As the years go by, old traditions may be replaced with new ones, while some traditions are non-negotiable. Pick your battles and recognize that some change is inevitable.
A huge cause of holiday blues can be tied to poor sleeping, eating, and exercise habits while gearing up for the season. Give yourself the permission to say no and prioritize yourself. It’s important to keep your equilibrium during the holidays and do your best not to overindulge. Overindulging in alcohol can exacerbate feelings of depression. Overindulging in food can affect your holiday mood and lead to feelings of guilt post holiday.
Community service is actually a great cure for holiday angst. Being of service to someone else is a way to stop focusing on you. It also can lend perspective to the feelings of helplessness the depressed often feel. Volunteering can be an extremely rewarding experience.
Set financial boundaries and stick to them. There is no perfect gift. Your niece or nephew will be happy to see you no matter what you give them. A year later, your gift will likely be forgotten but the time that you spent making them feel special will persevere. Do your best to manage your expectations and those around you by not overspending or over committing and increasing your holiday stress. Do not dig yourself a financial hole that may take you months to dig out of.
Hopefully these suggestions will help those of you that get depressed around the holidays manage the season more effectively. Try not to dwell if the season doesn’t live up to certain expectations. Forgive those that annoy or badger you if you can, but more importantly forgive yourself. If none of these suggestions help, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional.
photo credit: Simon Howden/FDP.net