The holidays aren't always a time of merriment and joy—for some, the season presents the possibility of depression and anxiety.
For many people, the holidays are a time to relax, reconnect with
family, and enjoy the festive spirit. But for many others—whether they
suffer from strained family relations, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or
undiagnosed depression or anxiety issues—December is also a time for
increased loneliness, stress, fatigue, self-scrutiny, and pessimism
about the future.
Those in danger of falling prey to the so-called
"holiday blues" can be proactive, however, according to the advocacy and
education group Mental Health America.
- Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set
realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a
list and prioritize the important activities.
- Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t put the entire
focus on just one day. Remember that it’s a season of holiday sentiment,
and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase
- Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad
or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the
person chooses not to express them.
- Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life
brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own
way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
- Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some of your time to help others.
- Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at
holiday decorations, going window shopping or making a snowperson with
- Be aware that 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, or contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while.
- Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities.
- Phototherapy, a treatment involving a few hours of exposure to
intense light, is shown to be effective in relieving depressive symptoms
in patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Even just taking a walk
in morning or early afternoon sunlight has been shown to alleviate
symptoms of seasonal depression.
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