Beating the Holiday Blues; Ways to deal with Seasonal Depression

The holiday season is always filled with mixed emotions; it’s the end of the year and time to reflect, it’s a chance to plan new goals for the upcoming year, a moment to be with friends and family and an opportunity to have a little fun. But sometimes, the holiday season can leave us feeling drained, exhausted, anxious and slightly depressed. Perhaps you didn’t achieve all the things you wanted, or this is the first holiday season without someone special, or maybe you’re already drained from the crazy year that was. The holiday season can be sad for some so I thought I’d list a few ways to feel supported, loved and look after yourself this silly season.

Just know it’s ok to not be ok. For whatever reason, you’re not feeling merry and bright, acknowledge that your feelings and emotions are valid and important. I don’t believe in people telling everyone to cheer up straight away after something sad happens; sadness is a legitimate feeling that helps you grow and overcome things. Remember to start looking forward towards the future and don’t intentionally set out to sulk and feel sad.

Try to be with people who truly care for you. Contacting and connecting with people who genuinely care for you is worth its weight in gold. If you’re comfortable, tell some of these people that you’re struggling this holiday season so they know to keep an eye on you and if you need to talk to them, they are willing to listen. Don’t forget that the internet is a wonderful thing and programs such as Skype, WhatsApp allow you to make free video and voice call so you can talk to people all over the world. Set up a cute Christmas date with a friend you haven’t caught up with and have a nice long catch up. Reach out to people this holiday season and tell people around you how much they mean to you, this also includes your pets and furry friends (I mean, even the Grinch had Max the dog).

Aim for one social event this holiday season. Even if you just plan a coffee catch up with two other people, try to attend one social event during the season. You may be surprised that being social can cheer you up even if you laugh at the silliness that is Christmas. You don’t have to go out on a weekend bender to be social so don’t feel that you need to do something crazy. Perhaps ask people around to watch a movie with you or wrap some presents with you. This idea also extends to making a plan for Christmas Eve/Day. If you are alone this holiday season, see if anyone has a spare place at the table or even offer to volunteer. There is somewhere for you this Christmas so be around people and don’t spend it alone.

Create a happy festive space for yourself. We aren’t all the Griswolds but even a few decorations can cheer you up. Living in today’s world, Christmas is customizable to suit everyone’s taste and personalities so you can choose to decorate a tree or a small plant anyway you choose. I have friends who have a Halloween themed Christmas tree and others who have a beach-themed tree. Do something small that can give you a project for a few hours; it’s a fun way to feel involved and apart of something. You don’t have to aim for perfection.

Self-care this season. By taking some time out just for you, you can recharge your batteries and keep your mental health is good condition. You don’t have to do anything Christmas themed but even just drawing yourself a nice bath or watching a few episodes of your favourite show can pick you right up. Look after yourself as best you can this season; try to exercise, eat healthily and get enough sleep. Links to self-care ideas here and here.

Remember that the ‘perfect’ Christmas does not exist, don’t pressure yourself to put on a Martha Stewart Christmas. Things always go wrong or don’t turn out the way you want them, laugh it off and do your best. I know it’s easier said than done but feel free to do Christmas and the holidays however you want them to be done not how the magazines and stores tell you to do it. Find a way to make the holiday season uniquely yours and embrace it. Life isn’t supposed to be perfect, so enjoy rather than stress.

Set realistic expectations. As great as places such as Pinterest and Instagram are for gathering ideas for the holiday season, it’s good to keep in mind that a lot of those shots are fabricated and not representative of real life. By setting realistic expectations, you can achieve more even if you may be anxious about family or certain events and triggers. Try to avoid anything that may trigger you or other people as best you can but I know that’s not always easy.

Drink in moderation. Alcohol is a depressant and can bring you down this holiday season if you’re already experiencing seasonal depression. I’m not saying to avoid drinking but keep an eye on it. With an influx of end of year parties, there are more people out and about so it’ll keep you safe too and lessen your chance of injury. By curbing your alcohol consumption, you also don’t need to wake up hungover the next morning and risk wasting a whole day feeling sick. Please don’t drink and drive this holiday season.

I know it’s all good and well to list these few things and think that solves everyone’s problems but I know that not everyone is able to follow these steps. If you are doing it tough this year, mentally or physically, please try and get some help. See if you can stay with someone or call an organization and see if they can help you.
If you are alone and are in need of emergency assistance, please call the lifeline hotline (13 11 14) or the suicide hotline (1300 22 4636).

And to everyone, I wish you all a very wonderful holiday season.



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