Reviewed by Rashonda Douthit, LCSW
The holidays are a time of the year that millions of people look forward to, but not everybody has an easy time. There are quite a few people who experience what is known as holiday depression. What is holiday depression exactly? Well, it happens when someone feels blue because of the holiday season. This can actually happen for a number of different reasons, and you might feel depressed simply because of factors in your life.
For instance, people who have lost family members might feel particularly depressed during the holidays. You often associate memories of the holidays with specific family members that helped to make them feel special in the past. When those family members pass on, it can be tough for some people to look back on those days and smile. Instead of focusing on cherishing the good memories created in the past, some people will wind up feeling melancholy about the present. This isn’t unusual at all, and if you’re going through holiday depression right now, then you should know that you’re not alone.
What can be done to alleviate holiday depression so that you can get through the holidays easier? Keep reading to get several important tips that will help you to get through holiday depression. You’ll learn how to cope with what you’re feeling inside so that you can focus on what matters in life. This might not be easy for you, but you should use this practical advice to make improvements.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
One of the best ways to keep yourself from getting too down during the holidays is to spend time with your loved ones. Even if you don’t have as many family members now as you did in the past, it’s going to be great to find people to connect with during the holidays. You might be able to spend the holidays with some of your close friends if they’re available. It might also be possible to make plans to travel to see certain family members during holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. The best thing that you can do is to go ahead and make some plans soon.
Sometimes holiday depression can worsen when you aren’t sure about what you’re going to be doing. You might notice that you’ll feel a bit more at ease when you have things completely figured out. If you need to travel to spend time with loved ones, it might also be good to handle your travel arrangements in advance. This should help you to feel calmer overall about the holiday situation. As long as you’re able to make some plans for the holidays, it will be a good move to make.
Just being around people that make you happy will help to boost your mood, too. It’s normal to feel a little bit sad during the holidays, and your current plans might not replicate those magical childhood memories from your past. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to make new memories that you will hold dearly in different ways, though. Give this idea a shot if you have people that you can spend the holidays with. You’ll be able to have a much more positive time during the holidays this way.
Set A Reasonable Budget
Another thing that can cause holiday depression is not having enough money to buy lots of gifts. Many people are in a tight financial spot right now due to various factors, and it makes sense that you might be worried about holiday gifts. If you don’t have thousands of extra dollars in your bank that you can afford to spend on gifts, then you shouldn’t fret. The holidays aren’t supposed to be about buying people expensive things and putting yourself in financial peril. It’s supposed to be about togetherness, love, and having a relaxing time with people that you care about.
That being said, it’s also perfectly fine to want to buy people gifts to show them that you love them. You just need to set reasonable limits on yourself so that you don’t go overboard. If you can only afford to spend a certain amount of money, you have to stick to that budget. Some families have started doing this, as a rule, to keep people from feeling anxious about holiday issues. For example, some families have a “gift price limit” that says no one can buy someone a gift that costs more than a certain amount of cash.
If you know that you aren’t supposed to spend more than a certain amount on any given individual, it might make it a lot simpler to get all of the gifts you need. You can still get people gifts that you will be proud of when you set limits like this. Just be honest about your financial situation and try not to put so much pressure on yourself. You can only afford to do so much, and just about everybody is in the same boat you are. Don’t hesitate to set a reasonable budget for your holiday spending so that you won’t have to deal with financial problems down the line. After all, financial issues are just going to exacerbate depression problems.
Temper Your Expectations
Holiday depression sometimes occurs due to people having unreasonable expectations, too. You might be trying way too hard to replicate some good memories from your past, and this will lead you to become depressed. Trying to force certain holiday activities and generally doing too much isn’t always a good idea. If people in your family are busy and only have time to do a few traditional things, then you’ll just have to accept that. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want to have fun during the holidays or that you shouldn’t try to plan things at all, but have realistic expectations.
Many people spread themselves too thin when planning for the holidays as well. They invite so many people over, and they wind up needing to make a ton of food to please everybody. Sometimes it’s a lot healthier to just take a step back and scale your expectations down a bit. You don’t have to put yourself in such a stressful position every year, and it’s probably better f you don’t. Consider what your expectations are and whether those expectations are truly healthy for you or not.
Getting a bit of exercise is always going to be helpful when you’re dealing with depression issues. Holiday depression is something that can last well after the holidays are over. Getting exercise is an excellent way to boost your mood, no matter what you’re going through. Whatever the case is, you’re going to feel better if you take the time to do something physical.
Even if you’re in the middle of planning for the holidays right now, it’s going to be best to make time for exercise. Try to get a little bit of exercise each day so that your body will feel better. If you do things that make you feel good like this, you’re going to get the mood boost you need. Exercising is a type of natural antidepressant that many people use as a coping mechanism. It’s one of the healthiest ways that you can deal with the holiday blues.
Spend Time Doing Things That You Love
You don’t need to focus on the holidays during the entire holiday season. It’s actually good to take a break and just do something that you enjoy so that you can unwind. You might want to read a good book, play one of your favorite video games, or watch a new movie. Whatever you decide to do is fine, but you just need to do something that you find relaxing and enjoyable. It’s possible to do relaxing things that are holiday-related if you’re still trying to get in the holiday spirit as well.
Lots of people have specific movies and show that they watch during the holiday season. You might want to pop in your copy of Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, Jingle All the Way, or Die Hard. If you’re more into active hobbies such as sports, then getting your buddies together for a game of basketball at the local gym might be perfect. Just try to find some things that you can do to help you feel less stressed about holiday issues.
Seek Depression Treatment
Finally, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek depression treatment if you’re feeling down. Millions of people deal with depression each year, and you might need to talk to a licensed mental health professional. Take this depression test if you’re unsure about whether you are depressed or not. It can help you to realize whether you’re dealing with issues that will need professional help or not. Don’t be nervous about going to see a therapist since they’re going to be able to make such a positive difference in your life if you’re diagnosed with depression.
Many people find success with medication and/or therapy. It might even be possible to get to the root of why you experience holiday depression so that you can feel better over time. Working with experts is a great way to get yourself in a better place mentally. Don’t wait to make contact if you’re concerned about how you’ve been feeling. There isn’t any reason you should have to face holiday depression alone.