While a popular Christmas song boasts “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, the holidays can be anything but for those battling depression. This may be the first holiday season following the loss of a loved one or the off-year for children of divorce visiting the other parent. Stress and depression during the holidays can be crippling, isolating and make a difficult situation even worse. Here are some suggestions to proactively ward off the debilitating effects of depression this holiday season.
Spend Time with the People Available to You – If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, feeling anxious you won’t be with your child this holiday or simply can’t afford to travel to be with family and friends, step back and take inventory of the people in your life who are available to you for those important days. Whether that is friends at church, your neighbors, friends in town, and even co-workers, make plans to be with these people during the holidays, especially for the actual days of the holiday you celebrate. Try not to be alone. Find others be with during the holidays. If you're looking for ideas of holiday activities around town, check out this list .
Exercise – Physical activity is a natural mood booster. When you exercise, chemicals called endorphins are released, which help reduce your perception of pain. Set a schedule to include regular exercise into your weekly routine. Even 10 minutes a day can improve your heart health and overall mood. Additionally, exercise not only helps ward off depression and stress, it can help improve your self-esteem and your sleep, which altogether can further battle depression even after your workout.
Limit Alcohol – Alcohol is a depressant, and even though we may think we are soothing our stress and depression by drinking, we are actually bringing ourselves down even further. Pay attention to how much you are drinking this holiday season. For women, it is best to limit alcoholic beverages to one per day, two per day for men. However, it may be a good idea for you to cut all alcoholic beverages during this time. Click here for mocktails, or non-alcoholic drinks.
Stay Busy – When we give ourselves time to think and dwell on our loss, grief or anxiety, stress and depression can worsen. Be proactive and make plans to stay busy. Try to focus on other people and you will find that staying busy will help take you out of your own mind and situation. The simple act of volunteering or being there for another friend can dramatically improve your outlook and your mood. Find an organization which is especially busy this time of year and volunteer your time on a regular basis throughout the holidays. Make sure you have plans to see family and friends throughout the holidays as well.
Change Your Attitude – Many of life’s circumstances rightfully lend themselves to thoughts and feelings which lead to depression and stress. You must proactively and consciously change your attitude to help from letting your mood get the best of you during the holidays. Protect yourself from what you are feeling by being intentional about your attitude. Recognize that wanting to feel better will not happen on its own. Take the necessary steps to give yourself the best approach for coping with stress and depression this season.