The holidays bring on a variety of feelings from joy and celebration to an overwhelming sense of responsibilities and sadness. Here I’ll share the secret to holiday depression and how to try to avoid feeling a Grinch the rest of the season.
Holiday depression is the onset of depressive symptoms specifically during the holiday season which usually starts from Thanksgiving to New Years. Whenever there’s a change in routine or expectations our stress levels go up.
We all experience some level of stress from the holidays, but when feelings like worthlessness, hopelessness, and apathy show up we’re dealing with something bigger than just your average stress.
The holidays shift our normal routine so stressors such as money, schedule, sleep, family dynamics get disrupted…. and so does your mood.
Here’s some ways to combat this…
1. Limit commitments and manage unrealistic expectations.
Stop comparing what you’re doing with anyone else. You need to go into the holidays with a plan that works for you. You are not expected to do everything. Your time is valuable and saying “no” to things should apart of holiday practice.
Commit to one or two things you actually want to do, not just because you feel obligated to do them. Plan what time you’ll get there, when you’ll leave, and who you want to talk to.
2. Turn your focus from price tags to connection.
Commercials and social media constantly feed us messages that the holidays are only about buying stuff. Although this is good for the economy, it’s not good for our psyche.
A new watch isn’t going to make you feel valued… having a conversation without looking at your phone, smiling at a stranger, or a walk with a friend will. Think about the experience of the connection not the dollar amount.
We all want to feel connected and loved.
Humans thrive on feeling loved. Using a neurobiology view, love is connection. So I want you to focus on the micro-moments of connection. This will also create residual feelings of self-value and appreciation which are antidotes to the feelings of depression.
2. Don’t isolate.
If you notice someone distancing themselves reach out. It’s a common misconception that you’re bothering someone who’s having a hard time. The last thing a person with depression should do is spend a lot of time alone when feeling depressed because it just perpetuates the same negative feelings about yourself and bring you deeper into the rabbit hole of discontentment. If you know someone that went through this last year be proactive and ask them for a plan of action asking “what type of support do you think you’ll need”.
The biggest takeaway is focusing on connection with the people you care about not perfection. Don’t let holiday depression win this year. Wishing you a safe and joyous holiday!!!
Aniesa Hanson is a licensed Tampa therapist and helps people overcome struggles such as anxiety, relationship issues, and personal growth. If you’re interested in working with, or want to ask a question, click here. We look forward to hearing from you soon!