Most people expect the holidays to be a time of cheer and laughter. After all, it’s the time when family and loved ones get together to enjoy food and traditions as decorations adorn our homes.
For many, however, this isn’t always the case. People struggle to get through the holidays for numerous reasons, but one reason is because holidays can be a time of deep sadness.
Causes of holiday depression
Many factors contribute to holiday depression, so it’s worth knowing what they are and how you can mitigate the blues during this wintry season.
The most common cause of holiday depression is an inability to be with loved ones. People often associate holidays such as Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s with seeing people they haven’t seen in a while, so it’s emotionally draining to lose that.
Holidays also bring unrealistic expectations and a need to buy expensive gifts. This undue financial stress can worsen feelings of depression.
Undesirable side effects
The onset of holiday depression usually leads to headaches, insomnia and excessive drinking and eating habits. Those suffering from depression also tend to lack motivation to “do what they should be doing.” People cope with depression in different ways, often seeking comfort wherever they can to get through a challenging time of life.
Preventing the blues
So, how can you avoid falling into despair during this season when everyone else is cheerful and smiling? The first question to ask yourself is “what is the cause of my feeling down?”
It’s important to talk with others who will be open to hearing about your sadness, whether it has resulted from the loss of a loved one or a financial reversal. Counseling and support groups are invaluable resources for helping you get through times of grief. A change of scenery can also be a powerful way to reinvigorate your sense of happiness.
It’s also important to be realistic. If you take antidepressant medication, don’t expect it to work right away. Oftentimes, it may be that you simply need to make sure you’re eating right, getting the right amount of sleep (roughly 7 to 8 hours), and exercising at least most days during the week.
Reach out for help
There are times, however, when something deeper is troubling you. The most important thing you can do is talk about what you are going through with a friend. Be proactive! Seek help from those who care about you the most. This deep level of sharing can be one of the most meaningful ways to fight off the holiday blues.
Remember to live in the moment — but also look to the future with optimism.