Depression is often an uninvited guest during the holidays. We think about family bonding, togetherness, excitement, a warm fire, maybe eggnog, and great presents.
However, feeling depressed during the holiday is a common reaction to all the expectations and childhood fantasies we still return to, as the holiday nears.
I give my clients some “tools” to take out of their “toolbox’ to help them manage their feelings of disappointment, concern about family conflict, and the resurgence of the sadness that comes with the losses of people we love.
Tools such as quietly leaving the table or the room and finding a place to sit alone for some time, sharing your feelings with a friend or relative who is “safe” to talk with, whom you feel will understand, and probably share some of their own feelings. When you have a feeling of anxiety or experience overwhelm, go outside and breathe in the air. It’s ok if it’s cold. Give yourself five or so minutes outside taking in deep breaths.
You can skip a party or a get-together if you feel it is too much pressure. You do not have to attend every celebration unless you want to.
Stay aware of how much you eat and drink so you won’t be upset with yourself the next day. Drinking too much and overeating add to depression and judging ourselves harshly.
Usually, the depression lifts after the holiday is over. The pressure and reminders of past upsets or present worries becomes a bit less after the new year arrives.
If you find you are not feeling better, get in touch with a professional who can help you. You will automatically feel better when you talk it over with someone knowledgeable and reassuring.
Wishing you good luck, good health, and peace as the next year begins.