Three Ways of Dealing with Holiday Depression
There are many ways to deal with holiday depression. While it is a myth that the suicide rate goes up during the holidays, holiday depression is no joke. Between the lack of adequate sunlight, the stress of being with our loved ones (I have four nephews and one niece age five and under), and loneliness at the absence of loved ones (my grandfather died on Christmas Eve when I was a child), we have a perfect storm for emotional over-stimulation. So, here are three ways to deal with holiday depression.
How to Deal with Holiday Depression
1. Make a Gratitude List
If you can read this article, you are more blessed than 99% of the world. You have an education that not only enables you to read but enables you to read in English, the language of the world. You have a computer and your computer has Internet access. And you are probably reading this in a safe place. That, in itself, is a lot to be grateful for.
While my family gatherings are lively, I am grateful to have a family I'm on relatively good terms with. It hasn't always been this way. My childhood was full of emotional and verbal abuse with sporadic physical abuse, but my family changed. My parents learned how to express themselves in healthy ways, my brother got clean, and both of my brothers have healthy marriages and are doting fathers. My nephews and niece are a joy to be around even as they drain my energy.
Those are just a few of the things I'm grateful for: my family, my education, and my safety. Think about, and remember, what you are grateful for.
2. Do Community Service
I have found that community service has a tremendous healing power. I never feel more alive than I do when I'm helping others. Not only does community service get you out of your tunnel vision, it also makes a difference in the lives of others--and that's a tremendous gift. As Charlotte observed in the novel Charlotte's Web:
You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.
A service club I was in during high school had the motto, "Service before self." When we put others first, we lift up our lives in the process. Healthy service--that is, service offered when needed, appropriate, and reasonable--lifts up everyone. That's a guaranteed way to deal with holiday depression.
3. Recognize Your Triggers
Knowing is half the battle. We should know what triggers our holiday depression in order to deal with holiday depression. For example, I was depressed earlier this month because medical bills cut into my Christmas budget. I couldn't buy the gifts I wanted to give. Then I realized my family doesn't really care about the gifts--they care about me. They're happy that I've thought of them and want them to be happy, not that I've spent money.
Another trigger for me is fatigue. I deal with this by seeing a doctor for treatment, trying to get adequate sleep, and taking a break from the festivities when my family is together. Getting adequate rest is vital to dealing with holiday depression.
Some people are triggered by unrealistic expectations. The best way to deal with this is to set a budget, whether it's financial, emotional, or physical. An emotional budget is taking stock of one's feelings--accurately assessing what one is feeling and accepting it, not forcing one to feel certain feelings because it's the holiday season, and responding to one's feelings with healthy coping skills. A physical budget is time management--allow time for rest, socializing, reflection, and activities of daily living.
That's three ways to deal with holiday depression. How do you deal with holiday depression?
Oberg, B. (2015, December 21). Three Ways of Dealing with Holiday Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2015/12/three-ways-to-deal-with-holiday-depression