While this is the time of year for happiness and joy… Still, some people experience extreme depression.
A lot of factors can cause the “Holiday Blues” like extra seasonal stress, and sentimental memories.
Other factors can include less sunlight, changes in diet and routine, alcohol, over commercialization or the lack of being with family or friends.
Dr Ken Duckworth of the National Association of Mental Illness suggests some ways to deal with the Holiday Blues.
He says getting enough sleep, sticking to normal routines, and setting reasonable expectations for the holidays such as attending holiday parties, setting a spending budget and keeping to it, and exercise, even a short walk., can lessen the affect of The Holiday Blues.
Dr. Duckworth suggests the best way to beat seasonal depression, is to take things day by day.
Don’t worry about how things should be. “There’s a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays,” said Duckworth. “We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays.” But remember, those other families doubtlessly have their own stressors and ruminations to contend with.
Be realistic. You can’t please everyone the rest of the year, so why try to during the holidays? Saying ‘no,’ whether to gatherings or a present on someone’s wish list that you simply cannot find, can be one of the most challenging parts of the season. But your own mental and physical well-being needs to come first.
Don’t try to be a superhero (or heroine). We all have complex family dynamics. Acknowledge them, but also acknowledge that, despite the season’s near-universal message of unity and peace, it’s not a realistic outlook. If you must spend time with these people, try to limit your exposure.
Volunteer. Volunteering can be a great source of comfort, simply knowing that you’re making a small dent in the lives of people who are not as fortunate. This is a great strategy if you feel lonely or isolated. Consider seeking out other community, religious or other social events.
Keep your own well-being in mind. Yes, the holidays are technically the season of giving. But that doesn’t mean you should take yourself completely out of the equation—instead, add yourself to it. Give yourself some time away from the hype, even if it’s just for half an hour a day. Exercise can also help, with its known anti-anxiety, anti-depression effect. Even a small amount of exercise, such as parking further from the store, can do much to improve your state of mind.
Give it some thought. Do you really have to do everything on your list? “Ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing things that make me miserable?’” Duckworth said. “Think about the reasons.” He suggests that you draw up a list of reasons why you engage in these holiday traditions, and then a list of reasons why you shouldn’t. Just making a simple pro and con list will remind you that you do have a choice.
Make sure that the “holiday blues” haven’t become a scapegoat. You could be experiencing Recurrent Depression with Seasonal Pattern (previously known as Seasonal Affective Disorder) or another biological or psychological cause. If these are persistent feelings, make an appointment to see your doctor.