How to Get Through the Holidays
While it’s not necessarily true that holiday and depression are correlated, they don’t call it the “Holiday Blues” for no reason. Ironically enough, during what is supposed to be a joyful and merry time, certain people are more prone to developing S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) due to not only the change in seasons but due to various triggers as well. The heightened contrast of other peoples’ happiness and family traditions cause those who either struggle with depression or those who have experienced something traumatic during this time of year to compare themselves negatively. What can you do to avoid potential triggers (and what can you do to best prepare yourself in case one of those triggers happen)? Read on for some helpful advice/tips and coping skills on how to get through the holidays.
Think About What Helps You
According to Health, it’s important to plan ahead as much as possible. Get out a calendar, flip to the December/January pages and mark down which dates you want to set aside for what would be considered ‘mentally draining’ tasks (such as shopping for gifts, getting decorations, baking--basically all of the exhaustion that comes with planning for the holidays).
Don’t overfill your schedule or you’ll just be overwhelmed! Afterwards, choose what dates you want to spend doing things you enjoy...think of things that relax you or make you happy, such as reading a good book or taking a long bath. Most of all, rest in between tasks to avoid becoming too overwhelmed and exhausted; it’s important to take breaks and consistently rest your body/mind.
Check in with yourself and assess what might feel tense on your body. Take a moment to ground yourself and sit in silence and remember to not be too hard on yourself and focus on what actually matters during the holidays. Additionally, Health recommends to avoid conflict by not engaging in arguments at the family dinner. Don’t go down that rabbithole--it’s not worth it!
Spend Your Time Partaking in Positive Activities
Think about what will benefit your mind and body the most -- if you must drink, Modern Loss alleges to try to limit any alcoholic consumption to 1-2 drinks! Alcohol is a depressant and there’s nothing positive about a hangover on Christmas day covered in your grandma’s homemade apple pie.
Modern Loss also recommends to volunteer and/or spend time in nature or around animals. The holidays are especially difficult for those who aren’t close with their families or for those who just lost a loved one, so gain some perspective by helping out at the local charities in your area. This is the time of year when people probably need our help the most due to the cold temperatures and mental health.
Furthermore, animals are always great to be around (volunteering at a local animal shelter is always an awesome option as well)--or if you don’t feel like going outside, hangout with your cat or dog. If you don’t own a dog, maybe you can borrow a friend’s dog! Separately, make sure to fit in time to exercise--at least incorporate a brisk walk into your daily routine! A simple walk can help clear your head and improve your mood.
Be Honest About Your Emotions
If you start to feel sad or stressed out, remind yourself that a lot of people are feeling this way, that you’re only human and that it’s normal...you’ll be okay! Be honest with yourself and others about how you feel--there’s no use in pretending that you’re okay. With that being said, keep in mind that you are never obligated to share anything that you don’t want to--share however much or however little you may want to, but never be ashamed of how you’re feeling and, as cliche as it may sound, it’s seriously okay to be okay (as long as you implement a daily routine into your life during what can be literally and figuratively cold months--well, unless you live in Florida, that is). It’s okay to be sad -- just try not to suppress your emotions and definitely look for some solutions! Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to someone you trust; I guarantee you that there are people out there who want to listen and help.
Furthermore, remember to stand up for yourself and say no if you want to! You do not have to say yes to every single thing simply because it’s the holidays and it’s supposed to be considered ‘family time.’ You’re still allowed to have your alone time and rest; it’s okay to say no! And most of all, get out of a situation if you need to. Your mental health should be your top priority and it comes before anything else. The people who truly love you and care for you should understand that.