Discover The Causes Of Holiday Depression And How You Can Overcome Them
Holiday depression affects many people, even those who are usually optimistic. Being around others and happy celebrations only intensify their sadness. Pegasus caregivers in Canoga Park and elsewhere offer these tips for handling depression during the holiday season.
Depression is an illness that affects an individual’s mood, making them feel sad. A depressed person loses interest in things and may feel hopeless. It can affect their ability to eat, sleep, or enjoy their usual activities.
Depression has many causes. These are as varied as brain chemistry, genetics, hormones, and physical changes in the brain. A sampling of risk factors includes:
- Chronic or serious illness
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Some individuals experience chronic depression. Others experience situational, or short-term, depression due to temporary circumstances. Although those with chronic depression are more vulnerable, feeling sad during a holiday can affect anyone.
Celebrations and holidays at any time of the year are generally regarded as happy times. Unfortunately, those can be occasions that make you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed rather than happy. The reasons for your sadness are as individual as you are.
Isolation Is A Source of Depression
By choice or circumstances, you may have few or no connections with others. Social isolation leads to depression, and depression can lead to withdrawing from others. It becomes easy to believe that “everyone else” is doing better and is happier than you.
Holidays are especially difficult if you’ve lost a loved one. Grief can overwhelm your joy in the season and leave you isolated. You may find these suggestions helpful, not only during holidays but any time you feel alone and depressed:
- Reach out to others – if you don’t have family or friends you can call or visit, “adopt” a surrogate family. Volunteer, because helping others takes you out of your sadness. Seek help from a spiritual advisor or therapist.
- Do something different – travel if you usually stayed home or go to a restaurant if you traditionally cooked for the holidays. Find a new way to celebrate being alive.
- Don’t submit to pressure from others – that doesn’t mean always refusing to be with everyone or refusing to do everything. However, if you’re not feeling up to being with someone or doing something, excuse yourself until you feel better. Pace yourself, rather than withdrawing, to maintain healthy interactions with others.
- Go outside – nature has healing power. Even if you can’t do more than walk around the block or circle your yard, you will feel better. If your health keeps you indoors, invest in houseplants or other greenery.
Pegasus caregivers can assist with finding community resources that help you or your loved one avoid isolation or depression.
Perhaps your holiday depression has more to do with conflicts with family and friends. Discard the fantasy that holiday cheer will change things. It won’t.
Instead, stockpile some neutral or non-combative responses to the inevitable conflicts. Retreat if you have to. Accept that the Norman Rockwell family togetherness exists only in a painting, not in your home.
Focus your time and energy on the friends and family members that make you feel good. Let the others go their own way unless they make goodwill overtures to you. A holiday reconciliation is an unexpected gift, not an expectation.
Keep Your Expectations Reasonable
Many other activities centered on holidays create stress. Decorating your home can be a problem. What if your decorations don’t compare favorably with families or neighbors?
What if you’re short of funds for buying decorations or gifts? What if the big meal your family expects is too much work this year? What if just thinking about the gazillion things you have to do in preparation exhausts you?
You feel like you’re the only one who is overwhelmed and can’t measure up. No wonder you’re anxious stressed, or depressed.
You will do yourself a big favor if you stop comparing yourself to others. You can also stop comparing this year to past years. You are unique, this year is unique, and comparisons are not valid.
Set reasonable expectations for who you are now. Establish time and money budgets and avoid going over budget on either. Make yourself a to-do list of what’s important and stick to it.
Keep your routine as normal as you can. Doing a few special things will help you enjoy the occasion more than a constant round of activities. Refrain from using food, alcohol, or drugs to get you through the day.
Make Time For Self-Care
Carve out “me time.” A little self-care goes a long way. Indulge yourself with whatever quiet activity that most rejuvenates you.
Set priorities to help you prevent others from “guilting” you into doing more than you can handle. Avoid letting the demands of the celebrations take away from getting enough sleep. You can cope a lot better when you’re rested and relaxed.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our comprehensive services can help alleviate holiday depression for you and your loved ones. Pegasus caregivers in Canoga Park and our other locations provide the level of care needed year-round.