Every kid looks forward to the holidays. It’s a time when you can open presents rather than go to school. However, for adults, holidays often mean stress, anxiety, and sometimes, depression. If holidays are a tough time for you, here are some ways to keep depression from taking over.
Manage your commitments.
Perhaps the most important thing to do is to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by holiday commitments. These commitments come in many forms–gifts you promise to buy, parties you promise to attend, dinners you promise to cook, relatives you promise to visit and so on. Just accept right away that you won’t be able to do everything you want to do, and you certainly won’t be able to do everything other people want you to do. Pick a few priorities, set a firm spending limit, and focus on what matters most to you.
Focus on connecting.
There is no end of lamenting that the holiday season has become too commercial. We all shake our heads at the crass commercialism of the holidays, then line up for amazing deals. However, studies have shown that getting things only makes us happier for a very short time. And the pressure of holiday shopping can make you completely miserable. It’s much better for your happiness and mental health if you make the focus of your holidays connecting to friends and family. Gifts are fine, but giving gifts should be a way to strengthen relationships, not to check a holiday season box. The connections are what really make you happier, so focus on those.
Go easy on the sweets.
It’s hard to avoid sweets during the holidays, but it’s worth the effort to try. Sweets crash your blood sugar and mess up your gut microbiome, leading to fatigue, irritability and depressed mood. The more you can stick to a healthy diet, the less depressed you’ll feel.
Watch out for SAD.
In addition to the pressures of the holiday season, the days get shorter in the northern hemisphere, which can lead to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent SAD. You may want to try light therapy, supplement with vitamin D, or take an antidepressant.
Stay away from alcohol.
This goes without saying if you are recovering from any kind of addiction. However, if you have struggled with depression, it’s better to avoid alcohol, especially during the holidays. In addition to the stress and short days, you don’t want to be drinking a depressant as well.
Find someone to talk to.
Therapists typically don’t work over the holidays, but you may want to discuss anything you’re concerned about with your therapist ahead of time. This will allow you to prepare for anything that’s likely to happen. Also, don’t be afraid to discuss your feelings with friends or loved ones, or attend a mutual aid meeting, if necessary. In an emergency, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.