Being surrounded by people full of holiday cheer and singing to joyous holiday music can be incredibly frustrating for those people suffering from depression during this time of year. You may experience thoughts like “What’s wrong with me….or…My life isn’t that bad why can’t I just be happy like everyone else.” Know that you are not alone and that the winter season and holiday stress can trigger and make depression even worse. Lack of sunshine and short days can really affect a person’s emotional status, and for those who experience depression throughout the year it can present worse during the winter.
Here are some helpful strategies for battling this difficult season:
- Find Balance: Try not to allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the holiday shopping, snow, end of the school semester, finals, etc. Work to be attentive to the things you need to get done and find time for yourself to do some things you enjoy.
- Be Social: When you are depressed this seems like a very difficult task. All you might want to do is isolate and be alone. Isolation fuels depression and can make it worse for you, yet you don’t have the motivation or energy to be social. This is where balance comes in; take small steps to being social by starting with being around friends or family for short periods of time.
- Self-Soothe: Think about where you feel most relaxed in your life. What helps you to calm after a stressful day? Take time for yourself every day. This can mean 5 minutes of silence alone when you wake up or before you go to bed. This can be meditating, listening to music, taking a bath, getting a massage, etc. Make sure to take time for yourself throughout the day.
- Manage your expectations: Stop thinking about what you “should” be doing or how you “should” feel around the holidays. Take things day by day and try to not judge how you feel but accept that this is how you feel for the moment and that it will not last forever.
- Focus on what you can control: Catch yourself when you are stressing or getting anxious about things that are not in your control. Focus on what you can do and what is in your control and try to let go of those things that are not.
- Ask for help: Many times the holidays get us overwhelmed and feeling like we cannot get everything done. Ask for help from family and friends and make sure to be specific. If you need help decorating than ask for some family to help you out. If you feel overwhelmed with shopping ask for a friend to go with you.
- Help others: Helping others helps us to feel productive and feel good about ourselves. It can also help us to appreciate all that we have that is good in our lives. So volunteer to help those less fortunate than you or help a friend that is in need.
The winter and holiday season will be over before you know it, so work on these strategies to help get you through this tough time and there will be sunshine and spring soon. If you feel like you cannot handle your depression or things are continuing to get worse please reach out for help and contact us.
Written By: Amanda Woodard, MA, LPC