Holidays are synonymous with joy, celebration, and creating beautiful memories with friends and family. Unfortunately, for those who are struggling with depression, this time of year can serve as a harsh reminder of the disconnection and loneliness they feel. Depression doesn’t discriminate—it can affect anyone at any time, regardless of whether it’s Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or any other celebration.
So, how can we cope with depression during the holiday season? This article aims to provide insight and guidance to make the festive season more bearable for those dealing with depression.
Understanding Holiday Depression
It’s crucial to comprehend what depression is before trying to combat it. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by an overwhelming sense of sadness, low energy, and loss of interest in things you usually enjoy. When this disorder pairs with holiday stressors, such as high expectations, family tension, financial stress, or feelings of loneliness, it’s termed as holiday depression. It’s not uncommon for the emotions of those battling depression to intensify during this period.
Holidays often bring a certain level of pressure to feel merry and happy. Television shows, movies, and advertisements seem to paint a picture of what the perfect holiday should look like, adding fuel to the pressure. In reality, it’s okay not to feel the holiday cheer. Realizing this can take off some weight from your shoulders.
The pressure to appear happy can worsen the symptoms of depression. Hence, it’s crucial to remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to not feel jolly and bright all the time. Nobody’s life is as picture-perfect as it might appear on social media. Remembering this can help you manage your expectations and subsequently alleviate your depressive symptoms.
Feeling alone during the holidays can magnify feelings of sadness. If you can’t be around family and friends physically, try to stay connected through calls, text messages, or video chats. Join an online support group or community where you can share your feelings and thoughts with others who may be going through the same experiences.
Pretending to be happy when you are not can be incredibly draining. It’s crucial to be honest with how you are feeling. Expressing your feelings to someone you trust can be a tremendous source of relief. Let your loved ones know that you’re dealing with depression. They may not completely understand what you’re going through, but they can offer their support and companionship, which can help significantly during this difficult time.
Physical activity increases the production of endorphins—your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. You don’t necessarily have to do rigorous workouts; even a 30-minute walk can improve your mood. Remember, any form of physical activity is better than none.
Studies show that mindful meditation can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Taking a few minutes each day to sit in a quiet space and focus on your breath can provide a significant boost to your mood.
Avoid Alcohol and Junk Food
The holiday season usually brings an abundance of food and alcohol, which might feel comforting at the moment but can exacerbate feelings of depression. Alcohol, in particular, is a depressant that can worsen your depression symptoms. Similarly, consuming high-sugar foods can cause a sudden spike in your blood sugar levels, followed by a crash that can leave you feeling low and irritable. Opt for healthy, well-balanced meals whenever you can.
Amid the festive rush, remember to take out time for yourself. Engaging in activities you enjoy, such as reading, gardening, painting, or simply having a hot cup of tea can soothe your mind. Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your mental health and put yourself first.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re feeling persistently sad, fatigued, or have thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Depression is a real and serious health condition. Therapists and psychiatrists are there to provide support, help you navigate through your feelings, and offer treatments such as therapy or medication.
The holiday season can be an exceptionally challenging time for those dealing with depression. However, by understanding your feelings, practicing self-care, and seeking support, you can make the holiday season a little more manageable. It’s essential to remember that you’re not alone, even though depression can often make you feel otherwise. Take one day at a time, seek help when you need it, and take care of yourself in this season and beyond.