Coping with Depression During the Holidays

Girl sits on the window sill of the window

The impending holidays can be stressful with end-of-year deadlines looming at work, gift buying, family issues, and cold and dark winter days. Sometimes it can be difficult to cope. If you are feeling down this holiday, there are some ways to lift your spirits. Here are a few suggestions:

Get Some Rest

The increase in activities during the holidays can interfere with your sleep schedule. Studies show that depression is linked to lack of sleep, so it’s important to make sure you get enough each night. Avoid large meals and physical activity before bed. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Eat Well & Exercise

Elaborate meals are a big part of holiday tradition and many of us tend to overindulge. To combat this, try to eat less. Have one piece of pie instead of two. You can also prepare for the big holiday feast by making and eating healthy meals in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Be mindful of alcohol as well. Don’t use it to deal with depression because it can affect you emotionally.

Exercise is often put on the back burner during the holidays, but don’t let that happen. Put exercise on your calendar a few times a week to help remind you to get out and do something physical. Exercise improves mood, so if you’re feeling stressed out or irritated during the holidays, take a walk or go to the gym to feel better.

Don’t Try to Do Too Much

There is a lot of the pressure during the holidays, from travelling home to see your family, to attending holiday parties and events, to meeting year-end work deadlines to giving the right gifts. If you tend to get stressed, feel anxiety or start feeling depressed when these activities mount, it can take a toll on you or trigger the holiday blues. It’s okay to say no to some of these things and relieve some of that pressure. If you feel like you are doing too much, sit an event out.

Don’t Argue with Family

If you do decide to spend time in a volatile family setting, don’t engage in arguments. Prepare neutral responses, such as, “Let’s talk about this later” and spend time with another family member, help in the kitchen, or go outside to get some air. You should also consider avoiding situations where there is conflict and celebrate with people who won’t make you lose your sanity.

Talk to Someone

It’s not uncommon to feel guilty about enjoying the holidays or anger at a person for leaving you alone. If you are in mourning, or just feel overwhelmed, make sure you talk to someone about your feelings. Call a good friend to help relieve your stress or anxiety. There are many support groups available that can help you reflect and heal. A professional therapist may also be an option.

Discus Your Holiday Blues with a Doctor

If you are consistently irritable, tired and down during the holidays, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that’s brought on by the change of seasons. Often a lack of exposure to the sun may bring about these feelings, and may be treated by long walks during daylight hours or exposure to a light box. Make an appointment to see a doctor to discuss how you are feeling and your options for getting better.

Get into a Routine

Routines, such as taking a walk, reading a book or playing games can rejuvenate you. Figure out what activities make you feel good and will help you get through the holidays, and make them a priority. Create a schedule so these restorative routines don’t fall by the wayside.


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