joy. Joy is a word that is most associated with holidays, but for many people suffering from depression around the world, it can feel almost impossible to find joy at this time of year. One study found that 38 percent of respondents said their stress levels rose during the holidays.
For those with depression, the holidays can be difficult. This is often due to triggers such as increased stress, family dynamics, and burnout from a full schedule of holiday activities. Although there are several coping strategies that can be used to manage holiday depression, it is important to understand that feeling blue, or down and out, does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from depression.
People with depression may experience certain symptoms that last for a specific amount of time. The National Institute of Mental Health has listed some signs and symptoms of depression that you should be aware of, especially if you experience most or all of the symptoms for more than two weeks.
- Anxiety or sadness
- Feeling guilty, helpless or worthless
- You lose interest in hobbies or activities you used to enjoy in the past
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling tired or lacking energy
- Too much or too little sleep
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Weight loss or appetite changes
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Suicide or death thoughts
Here Are 8 Ways To Cope With Depression As You Head Into The Holiday Season.
1. Be aware of your symptoms and take action.
If you suffer from depression, you will likely be familiar with the symptoms. These symptoms can start to appear, so be mindful of what may be triggering them. If you have ever felt depressed from stress over finances during the holidays, it may be because of this. This year, budget early and save as much money as possible for gifts.
2. Be Surrounded By A Strong Support System
Depression symptoms can be eased by being around people who are most concerned about you during holidays. Do your best not to isolate yourself. You will be able to reach out to your support network during the holidays to help you if you experience symptoms.
3. Keep Your Plans Simple
Depression can drain your energy and cause you to lose your ability to concentrate. Depression can also make it difficult to make decisions. Instead of trying to fill your holiday calendar full of complicated plans that may require a lot of concentration and decision-making, you should focus on simple activities. You can set small goals and accomplish what you can.
People who are depressed during the holidays may think that this is supposed to be a joyful time of year. It’s easy to set unrealistic expectations about being happy all the time during the holidays. This can lead to disappointment. You should have realistic expectations of yourself during the holidays and not become discouraged.
Regular exercise is good for your health. But did you know that exercise can help with depression symptoms? Get up and move on. To save time, you can shop at the mall instead of online for holiday shopping. Instead of using the snow blower, grab a shovel. Take a walk with your friends around the neighborhood and enjoy some socializing. Every bit helps.
6. Don’t Drink Alcohol
Alcohol can actually make your symptoms worse. You should plan ahead if you think you might be tempted to drink alcohol at holiday parties and gatherings. You can bring your own non-alcoholic drink (or even a mocktail!) along.
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can counter this by focusing on eating a healthy and balanced diet. You can also bring healthy alternatives to holiday gatherings, but be aware of your portion size.
7. Remember To Maintain A Healthy Diet
As discussed above, many times a symptom of depression is a change in appetite – either losing one’s appetite or wanting to eat more. To counter this, try to stay focused on eating a balanced and healthy diet. Likewise, if you feel you’re going to be tempted to overeat at holiday gatherings, bring your own healthy options with you, or be mindful of portion control.
8. Get Professional Help
Be honest with yourself at the end of each day. Seek help from your doctor if your symptoms become more severe. If you haven’t already, find a doctor you can trust. Talk to your doctor about the holiday season and the emotions you experience. You might also want to look into local support groups, conferences, and websites that can help.