Let’s face it, the holidays are not always happy. Enduring the November to January obligation to have good cheer, no matter what’s going on in your life can make the “holidays an especially difficult time for people who are depressed or grieving,” Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., president and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, said in a statement.
“People who are sad or lonely often feel out of sync when everyone else seems to be celebrating, and the holidays can exacerbate these feelings,” Dr. Borenstein explained.
If you find yourself facing the mid-winter blues this Christmas, here’s the latest advice on getting through the season with some degree of comfort.
- Get help. Seeking help for depression is no different that consulting a doctor for diabetes or symptoms of other illnesses. If you are feeling depressed, anxious or out of sorts, make an appointment with a licensed clinical social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. They can help you talk through your feelings and possibly prescribe medication, if it’s needed.
- Don’t shut people out. Depression tends to make people want to isolate themselves, but Dr. Borenstein advised that attending a social occasion, even if you don’t feel up to it at first, may actually make you feel better.
- Keep things in perspective. Release yourself from the pressure to have a perfect day come Dec. 25 and do your best to avoid the longstanding family conflicts that may flare up during the holidays. Instead, Borenstien suggests you focus on what’s good in your life — be thankful for what you have and the things that make you happy.
- Maintain a healthy routine. Believe it or not, avoiding exercise and loading up on high-fat, high-sugar foods can destabilize your mood and drain your energy. Try to stick with a workout routine or at least take a brisk daily walk during the season.
- Don’t spike the eggnog. There’s always lots of alcohol around the holidays, but it is a depressant that can increase depression, anxiety and stress. Limit yourself to a drink with dinner if you really want to indulge, but you may feel better without it.
- Balance your budget. Overspending will only add to holiday anxieties, so establish your budget before you start shopping. Don’t attempt to shop your way out of the blues with a pile of pricey gifts.
Last, be kind to yourself. Meditate, rest or read a good book. The season only lasts a few weeks. It will be over before you know it.