We’re happy to have a guest post from Patrick Bailey, a professional writer for mental health, among other topics. Check out his bio below the article.
Tips for Limiting Holiday Depression
Many people stress out and feel increased depression and anxiety during the holidays, while others embrace the season. Holiday stress and seasonal depression can easily lead to overdoing alcohol or other substances, walking an unsteady path toward addiction.
The holidays are not meant to see who can buy the best present or max out a credit card, especially when there is little or no money available to purchase gifts. It is not difficult to get stressed out, anxious, and depressed at this time of year. A death close to the holidays, remembering a lost loved one so close to the season, hospitalizations, missing faraway friends and family, a lack of finances, the need to work on holidays, and the constant lockdowns due to COVID-19 — any or all can make things seem bleak, to put it mildly.
To better help you manage holiday anxiety and depression, be sure to devote some time to self-care, for your own good as well as that of others.
Tips for Limiting Depression
Use some of these tips to help lessen holiday depression.
- Exercise your body every day. It’s good for the body and the mind.
- Exercise your mind. Read. Do puzzles. Whatever you find mentally stimulating.
- Be realistic about the holiday and that it can bring both highs and lows.
- Find some humor in every day.
- Face your fears, head-on. Seek help if you must.
- Be active. That can include exercise, but it also means being engaged.
- Cook healthier meals, and make healthier food choices. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins — all are good.
- Look for ways to help someone in need. Helping others can do wonders for the spirit.
Make your holiday less stressful by considering the following:
- Ask your family’s input in your holiday planning.
- Delegate planning, decorating, dinner, games, and more.
- Use disposable dinner plates and silverware. No one wants to wash dishes all day. Plus it can minimize the potential spread of COVID.
- Spend the holidays at home this year and invite only close family members, to keep things safer and follow recommended guidelines.
- Resist the urge to be perfect in your holiday planning.
- Cut your holiday card list in half or more.
- Stress the real meaning of the season.
- Avoid maxing out credit cards and buy what you can afford. If you cannot afford to buy a lot, buy a little and be happy you could do that much.
- Draw names instead of buying everyone a seasonal gift.
- Do not clean, decorate, shop, cook, or bake until you keel over. Do a bit, and rest a bit. Take a nap, play a game, have a cup of coffee while calling an old friend.
- Talk about your feelings with a trusted, impartial person.
- Eat three well-balanced meals a day.
- Cut back on coffee and drink more water.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you feel overburdened.
- Get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
It’s easy to go into overdrive during the holidays, but know your limits. If you are retired, you don’t need to and may not have the energy to run around like you did when you were 20ish. Take frequent rest breaks to recharge.
Avoid situations that cause you stress. If shopping during peak times is aggravating, for example, consider curbside pickup.
Also be sure to spend time doing what relaxes you, whether that means a bit of pampering, reading, watching a funny movie, or whatever it is that provides a small, healthy escape.
Always remember what is essential in your life and that the holidays are not all about buying and shopping for gifts. Try to remain within your budget of spending. Talk with immediate family about alternatives for the season. Make a list of beloved traditions, and ditch the ones that no one cares about. Avoid the non-essentials. Examine what matters the most.
For your sake and that of your loved ones, do your absolute best to stay mentally healthy and alert to possible signs and symptoms of holiday depression. If substance use is interfering too heavily with your day-to-day life or during the holidays, it may be time to consider alcohol treatment options. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it takes strength and commitment.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. We’re