How to Avoid Holiday Depression

Everywhere you go at this time of year, you see signs, cards and hear songs about it being a time of joy. We sing songs like Joy To The World and we wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Christmas is billed as a time of rejoicing, merriment and celebration. One would think that everyone is happy and having a wonderful time, but for so many, the exact opposite is true. The holidays are NOT a time of joy or being merry, but a time of sadness and depression. They will ask – ‘why can’t that be me?’ or ‘why is everyone else so much happier at this time of year that I am?’

Why do more people suffer from headaches and insomnia and tend to eat and drink more during the holiday season?

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Why does the sadness, depression and suicide increase so much during the holiday season?

For some, the holiday season brings on extra stress and pressure caused by trying to afford buying gifts for everyone. For others, it’s the stress and pressure of expected travel. For some, it’s having to meet year end goals at work. For many, it’s the loss of a loved one, which becomes especially painful during the holiday season and for some, it’s all of the above and more, which for them makes the holiday season a time of dread, sorrow and pain.

According to WebMD, here are some ways to help avoid the stress, pressure and depression that comes with the holidays:

19 tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:

  • Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  • Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  • Do not put all your energy into just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.
  • Live and enjoy the present.
  • Look to the future with optimism.
  • Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.
  • If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.
  • Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, and watching the winter weather, whether it’s a snowflake or a raindrop.
  • Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people.
  • Reach out and make new friends.
  • Make time to contact a long-lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
  • Make time for yourself!
  • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  • Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depressionwhen the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.

One of my best friend’s wife died on Dec. 26 about 6 years ago. They never had children and it would be easy for him to spend the holiday alone and in sorrow with missing his wife, but instead, he spends the holiday with other family members, with friends and even with some of his former work colleagues. The bottom line is that he doesn’t sit alone at home. He is proactive to avoid the depression.

A woman I knew lost her husband during the holiday season and she spends her holidays volunteering with various charitable organizations that allow her to spend the time with others.

It’s a personal choice that one makes – either wallow in their sorrow or do something to avoid it.

Follow the tips above and you will find the holiday season not only more enjoyable but more tolerable.

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