The holiday season is supposed to be about slowing down and spending time with family and friends. However, the holidays can be a difficult time for many people, particularly those who are dealing with mental health concerns or have gone through a significant life transition, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or illness. Working with a qualified counselor can help you learn how to deal with holiday depression and focus on self-care.
Understanding Holiday Depression
Holidays can feel overwhelming if you’re still grieving or dealing with mental illness. You might feel like you’re drowning in a never-ending cycle of get-togethers, tight deadlines, and the financial stress of buying gifts. All that stress around the holidays can exacerbate your emotional discomfort.
Coping with Holiday Depression: 5 Strategies to Survive the Holidays
Going to psychotherapy or counseling might help you better understand your feelings, develop helpful self-care strategies, and learn how to deal with holiday depression and anxiety.
Holiday Depression vs. Holiday Blues: Understanding the Difference
Depression counseling can help you recognize your symptoms so that you can receive appropriate treatment tailored to your needs. Your counselor can help you discern between holiday blues and more serious mental health conditions.
If you have holiday blues, this condition is often temporary and resolves as the holiday season ends. Your sadness, fatigue, and distress may be uncomfortable, but they are typically mild and don’t significantly impair your everyday life.
However, if you experience anxiety disorders, seasonal affective disorder, or major depressive disorder, your symptoms may be more intense and persistent. You might struggle with constant feelings of hopelessness, sadness, severe anxiety, and changes in sleep and appetite. These feelings may worsen during the holidays, significantly harming your ability to function in your everyday life. If this is the case, seeking help from a mental health professional is essential.
In addition to depression counseling, you may want to try the following self-care strategies for coping with holiday depression and anxiety:
1. Practice Mindfulness
Focus on the present moment and be fully present in each experience, whether wrapping presents, having a morning cup of tea, or practicing mindful breathing. Mindfulness can help reduce holiday stress and boost your mood by keeping you focused on the present without judgment.
2. Start New Traditions
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, old holiday traditions may trigger sadness. Try creating new ones, as they may provide a distraction and something to look forward to.
3. Set Boundaries
Say no to requests, gatherings, or activities that make you feel overwhelmed or stressed. Also, limit social media use, as it can exacerbate loneliness and sadness. Setting boundaries saves your energy, reduces stress, and allows you to engage in things that promote self-care.
4. Stay Connected
Reach out to family and friends. Keeping in touch with family and friends, even if it’s just through phone calls or online chat, can help you deal with holiday depression and feel less alone.
5. Engage in Creative Expression
Find a creative outlet, like writing, drawing, or making holiday ornaments. Creative expression can be therapeutic as it offers a constructive way to express your thoughts and feelings.