The end of the year is meant to be a time of joy, but for many people, the holidays are a reminder of lost loved ones, unattainable expectations, family problems, and overwhelming stress. For these people, fighting the holiday blues may seem like a lost cause at the time. As one of few mental health residential facilities in Florida, we understand this time of year can be gloomy, so we want to help you learn how to combat depression around the holidays and enjoy this season.
Depression and the Holidays
In addition to the reminders of lost loved ones and exposure to family problems, the holidays often present an array of demands like cooking meals, shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining, to name a few. And considering the recent pandemic and the many stressors it presented, the holidays have been especially isolated.
Aside from these factors, it’s also common to experience what’s known as the “winter blues” during the holidays due to the change in weather. Especially in places that get a lot of snow and harsh cold winters, going outside and spending time with others may be especially limited, which can lead to a lot of isolating days indoors.
Feeling depressed in the holidays and the winter season is also referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mental health disorder in which the person experiences symptoms of depression due to a change in seasons. What’s more, people who may be recovering from an addiction or coping with a mental health disorder may struggle with the excessive drinking that’s common during the holidays or the socializing and family interactions.
Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family, kids, and hosting, as well as any personal issues you may be coping with, can be difficult. However, there are plenty of practical tips for coping with depression around the holidays that can minimize the stress of this season.
How to Deal With Holiday Depression
The holiday season doesn’t have to be such a downer, and depression doesn’t have to get the best of you. Follow these holiday depression tips so you can enjoy the end of the year.
Don’t Ignore Your Feelings
Knowing how to combat depression during the holidays is not the same as knowing how to push your feelings aside. It is okay to be sad sometimes. While you may try to push through the sadness, this could make you feel worse. If you are feeling depressed, take the time to recognize it and try to understand why you might be feeling that way. You may need to take some time alone before you are ready to rejoin the party or spend time with your family again.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Do Everything
If you find you feel your best when you are with your family, then try to spend more time doing activities with them. If you have no desire to participate in the annual cookie exchange this year, then don’t. It is okay to say no. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, so instead of sticking to what you think are mandatory obligations that will only add to your depression, focus on what will make you happy this holiday season.
Find a Support System
It can be hard to know how to combat depression around the holidays on your own, but a good support system should be able to help. If you do not already have one, it is important to seek out a support system that you can lean on. This could be anyone from a trusted friend to a formal support group or therapist.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Parties are common at the end of the year, but turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with your holiday depression can make you feel worse in the long run. It may momentarily numb the pain but could lead to an addiction problem later on and everything that comes with it. If you do find yourself becoming dependent on these substances, look for co-occurring disorder treatment.
Know Your Limits
It’s okay to split your time between being at home with immediate family and joining the party. If you want to get home a little earlier this year to unwind and enjoy the rest of the holiday without all of the business, then do it! Don’t be afraid to change up the schedule and recognize your limits to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Maintain Healthy Habits
It’s easy to abandon your typical schedule of exercise, intuitive eating, and other healthy habits during the holidays. When Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas start rounding the corner, we tend to abandon our usual schedules and let some other things slide. However, overindulgence during this period can contribute to physical as well as mental discomfort in the long run.
Instead, stick to these things so you can better enjoy the holidays:
- Have a healthy snack before holiday meals, so you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese, or drinks
- Eat healthy meals
- Get plenty of rest
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Try deep-breathing exercises
- Avoid alcohol and drug use
- Get off social media and spend time with loved ones
As BHOPB detox center, we understand that holiday depression and stress can be especially triggering for people in addiction recovery. If you find yourself battling to manage your cravings or desire to use or drink, attending our 12-step meetings throughout the holiday season can help you stay on track.
Get Help If It Does Not Go Away
While it is common that some people may feel more depressed for the holidays instead of joyful, unaddressed holiday blues could lead to clinical depression.1 If you notice your depression is not going away after the New Year or you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, do not wait to get professional help. Our Banyan Lake Worth rehab offers depression treatment along with other programs designed to help patients combat these issues.
The holiday blues are real for many people, but they do not have to get the best of you. By following our tips for fighting depression over the holidays, you just might find that this is your best holiday season yet.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health problems and/or addiction issues, we want to help. Call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981 to get started.