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Health Tips for Holiday Depression

separator Holiday depression is common, but the causes of it can vary from person to person. The tough thing about depression is that it can make you want to crawl under the covers and shut out the world. If getting depressed during the holidays is something you know you can count on, make steps in advance to make this season different for you. Here are some thoughts.

Figure out why you feel blue. 
  • Do you get depressed because you feel overwhelmed? Going to parties, giving parties, spending more money than you should, trying to please everyone…all of these things can stress you out, which can lead to depression. Is it simply that every year, sometime around November, when you know that all that stress is looming for you once again, you start to feel down?
  • Do you get depressed because you feel lonely? Maybe you’re single and far from family. Maybe you have grown children who won’t be with you during the holidays, and you can’t stop thinking about how things used to be.
  • Do you get depressed because you do have family around, but you don’t enjoy being around them?
  • Do you get depressed because you’ve lost a loved one?

You can’t address your depression very well if you haven’t actually sat down and figured out why it seems like life is a downer at holiday time. So identify your main issues, and that will give you a springboard for coming up with some ways to deal with your feelings.

If stress is the culprit, nip it in the bud. Don’t overspend—either money or time. You don’t have to do everything the way you’ve always done it. That’s one big mistake people tend to make. They worry about disappointing people, disappointing themselves; they worry that if everything isn’t the way it’s always been, it might not be any fun. Dare to break the mold this year. Keep things simple and meaningful. Scrap the big party and have just a few friends over. Limit gift giving. Draw names if you have a lot of people on your list.

If loneliness is the issue, make a plan early. If you wait until just a few days before the holiday, loneliness may overpower you. You may find yourself not wanting to leave the house just because you’re feeling so sad. Figure out in advance exactly how you’ll spend your holidays. For example, if you have close friends nearby, let them know you’d like to see them. Sometimes people get so caught up in their own holiday rush they don’t realize that you have no place to go. If you don’t have friends nearby, call local volunteer agencies to find out how you can take part in serving meals to those in need, distribute gifts to children, etc.

If you’re mourning a loved one, think about having a simple ceremony. Remembering a loved one during the holidays can bring you comfort. Instead of trying to hide from your sadness, bring your feelings into the open. You could gather other family members, light a candle, say a prayer, have a quiet meditation or find any other meaningful way to express your need to remember your loved one. The thought of it may make people a little uncomfortable if you haven’t done anything like this before. But everyone may find that remembering a loved one together helps them feel connected to each other and makes the holiday meaningful.

Consider talking to a counselor
If holiday depression happens year after year and you don’t seem to be able to break the cycle, think about talking to a professional counselor. You and the therapist can come up with ways to make the holidays something to look forward to.

National Mental Health Association
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