The winter holiday season, with celebrations for Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s is supposed to be filled with fun, friends, and family. However, for some people, the holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of the year. According to a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of people with mental illness report that holidays make their conditions worse.
The holiday season highlights what is so difficult about living with depression because the pressure to be joyful and social peaks this time of year. People with depression compare their actual feelings to the holiday cheer they’re expected to feel, which only makes them feel worse.
If you suffer from depression, or are prone to the holiday blues, follow these tips for a more cheerful season:
1) Set a budget.
The financial stress of holiday shopping can fuel feelings of guilt and anxiety. Make a list of all the purchased you need to make for the holidays and set a reasonable budget you can afford. Use this as a shopping guide.
*Extra tip* Use cash for all your holiday shopping to stay on track. It’s all too easy to swipe away past your budget with credit cards.
2) Keep expectations in check.
Instead of trying to recreate a happy holiday you experienced in the past, make new memories and try to live in the moment.
3) Don’t drink.
Drinking alcohol is accepted and often encouraged at holiday parties. However, alcohol is a depressant. If you’re already feeling down, it can make your mental state a whole lot worse.
4) Help others.
Focusing on others in need gives you the opportunity to think of something besides your negative thoughts. Volunteering can be an uplifting, gratifying experience.
5) Warm up.
Research shows that exposure to warm temperature can elevate mood. Treat yourself to a warm bath, or cup of tea or cocoa.
6) See your doctor.
Overcoming clinical depression all on your own is unlikely. Visit your doctor if you feel your depression getting out of hand this holiday season.