The holiday season can be a time filled with family, friends and social gatherings. It can be a time of fun and celebration. It can also be a time filled with anxiety, loneliness and sadness. Outside of the holidays being busy, it’s a time of reflection; whether happy and joyful or sad and void. Everyone has different experiences come the holidays and for some, it’s a depressing time. Since the holidays will always be here there are ways to combat these depression blues. Here are five tips to help combat holiday depression.
- Don’t Overdo It
- Enjoy Community Festivities
- Limit Your Drinking
- Be Present
Don’t Overdo It
This is a tip that anyone around the holidays can benefit from. For whatever reason we seem to think that we have to keep up with all the demands of the holidays. Whether those are internal demands we place on ourselves, society’s demands that seem to be on constant repeat all throughout the year or friends and family that unknowingly make us feel pressured to be at every event and participate in every function. Whatever the case, part of the holiday busyness is the unspoken expectation that we all feel we have to abide by. So what do we do when we feel overwhelmed by these nagging expectations? Don’t overdo it!
Prioritize what really matters and that means prioritizing what really matters to you; not everyone around you. Make a list. Decide what is valuable to you and then place them in order of importance. Make a commitment to yourself to commit to less and enjoy yourself more. Be practical! If the list making is too much then start with one thing and focus on that. If that one thing happens to be yourself then let that be your focus. The holidays are a time of giving. Not just material things like everyone gets caught up in. It’s about the giving of our hearts. Our thoughtfulness to others. We cannot give of ourselves in any aspect if we are not first taking care of the source from which we give. That’s you! And if that’s your starting point then that is the best place to be.
Volunteering your time can be one of the most uplifting things we can do. There is something so powerful that happens when we reach out to help others. The holiday season is a great time to serve other people in need. People who may be in worse off situations than yourself. Seeing how you can impact the lives of others and spread joy is both rewarding and proven to lift one’s spirits. Serving at local food distributing non-profits, soup kitchens, churches and local community outreaches are just a few ways you can volunteer your time. The added bonus in volunteering is meeting new people as well. You never know where new friends can be found!
Enjoy Community Festivities
The nice thing about the holiday season is that there is always something going on. Even when we don’t want the pressure of attending every event and function, it’s at least nice to know that the option is there if were interested. The perk to community festivities is that they are almost always free or require a canned food donation. Things like lighted tree events, local Christmas parades, Santa villages, holiday bazaars and in house wreath making events are just some of the popular festivities to top the list. Warm cocoa, peppermint candy canes and hot apple cider seem to always be present around this time of year. It’s a time where many gather to enjoy the cheer of the season and sometimes just being around this atmosphere can brighten your mood.
It’s common when you experience depression to feel like you would rather isolate yourself and steer clear of these types of social gatherings but what we need is often the opposite of what we feel. Putting yourself out there, if even for just a bit, can be exactly what’s needed to put a smile on your face and one on your heart.
Limit Your Drinking
It does seem that the holiday season is just another reason to drink but if you experience depression then this is the last thing that you’ll want to do. Drinking away how we feel doesn’t actually work, no matter how much we want to believe that it does. If anything, it only makes things worse or at best, results in the same. With the added anxieties of the season, people can turn to drinking as a way to take off the edge but the aftermath is never worth it. So what can you do while everyone else is filling their cups? Come to events and festivities prepared. Mentally and practically. Bring a water bottle or a thermos of coffee or hot cocoa. Decide before you head anywhere what your plan is and stick to it. If an accountability partner is there to offer support, take it! Anything that helps you to be able to relax and enjoy yourself is the key. Without having to have that drink.
One of the hardest things for anyone to do during the holiday season is being present. The busyness gets the best of us and if we struggle with depression we may try to stay busy to avoid how we feel. The holidays should be a time where we can experience joy but if we’re not thinking ahead, they can become something quite different. Focus your attention on who you are today. Don’t focus on the past or compare yourself. These are habits that will rob you of joy versus bringing joy into your life.
Take one day at a time and don’t put too much on your to do list. Taking the holidays with ease helps you to engage with what is before you without being overwhelmed. When unwanted anxiety isn’t knocking at your door your able to give your attention to what matters and here you will find yourself being able to be present and enjoy yourself as well as those around you.
The best thing you can do to combat holiday depression is take care of yourself. It will require some thought and planning but you can enjoy the holidays in a way that works best for you. This season is a time of giving to others but we can’t give our best ‘selves’ if we are not first taking care of ourselves.