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10 holiday depression busters

10 holiday depression busters
by Jennifer LB Leese
Staff Writer

The holiday season is a joyful time...a time we spend with our families...a time for cheer and's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
But not if you suffer from stress, depression, and anxiety - then it's a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, fatigue, and endless headaches.
"Many factors can cause the "holiday blues": stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one's family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and houseguests also contribute to feelings of tension." (Mental Health America)
"When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past." (Mayo Clinic)
Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression:
1- Reach out to others. If past holidays have left you sad, lonely, neglected, and secluded - don't let that happen again this year. Celebrate the holidays - your holidays - in a new way. Get out into the community and attend social events, and/or volunteer at shelters. Helping others is a great way to help yourself. Contact an old friend or family member. All may broaden your spirits and shine a new light on the holiday season.
2- Be realistic. When making plans, keep your expectations manageable. Don't set goals you know you couldn't possibly reach this year. Take your time. Pace yourself. Don't put your new way of celebrating the holiday season on just one day, Thanksgiving Day, for example - spread out your activities to lessen stress, making the holidays more enjoyable.
3- Accept it. Fact: Life brings changes. Not all are wanted. Not all are easy to deal with. But mostly all need accepting. You can't move forward if you don't. For example, say your adult children can't come to your house for the holidays this year - nothing you can do to change that, right? So, you just have to accept it. Getting angry only isolates you more, and may cause new issues throughout the year. So now you change it by finding new ways to celebrate with them. Share pictures, emails, phone conversations arranged ahead of time for lengthier discussions, and videos.
4- Listen to yourself. If you can't listen to yourself, who can you listen to? You have to put yourself first. If the holidays are a depressing one for you because it's the time a loved one had passed - then listen to your heart - and understand that it's natural to miss them. Along with this feeling comes sadness and grief and it's ok to express your feelings. No one is happy all the time.
5- Look toward the future. Memories of yesteryear are not always pleasant ones, so why bring them into your future? Don't let your past holidays dictate what your future holidays should be. Everyone's different and each season should be celebrated as such.
6- Fun times. When's the last time you rolled up a huge snowball had a snowball fight? What about making a snowman or snowangel? How often do you take a drive just to look at Christmas decorations? Not often? Then why not do that tonight? The stress is sure to melt away.
7- Skinny wallet. If you're stuck on a budget, which most of us are nowadays, set a limit of what you can spend and stick to it. Gift giving doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't even have to be store bought. Decide who you're buying for and set limits for all. Many families today pick names, example: 4 siblings with 4 spouses - that's a lot to buy for, not to mention their children - so why not put the 8 names into a hat and everyone draws one out. Whoever's name you get is the one you buy for.
8- If you can't do it. Don't. Everyone is built with a limit that they're able to handle. Being the "yes man" will only add more stress and will quickly slink you further into depression. Learn to say no. You can't make everyone happy anyway. Besides, if you said yes to something you couldn't possibly achieve this time of year, then why stress yourself out in trying to accomplish it.
9- Take a breather and plan ahead. Waiting until the last minute doesn't usually end well. Take a moment to breath and grab a pen and paper. Write down each person and what gift you'd really like to buy for them. Then find the right weekend and start shopping. Your holiday gift shopping doesn't have to be done in one weekend. Black Friday is a day of great sales, but not many can take the pressure - noise - clutter - rudeness - crowds. So why go? Cyber Monday is a great alternative. Shop from your pjs right in your own home. No one to bump into. No one yelling at you go hand the last item over. No crying kids and nasty looks. Most businesses who take part in the Cyber Monday craze, offer free or discount shipping.
10- Talk it out. If you find that no matter what you do and no matter how many changes you try to make - gloominess always finds you. If you're unable to sleep, are anxious and tired all the time, feel hopeless and just down right depressed then find someone to talk to. Whether it's a good friend or professional help - talk it out.
For those of you who are able to take pleasure in and get pleasure from the holiday season - remember - just because you can - doesn't mean everyone around you has that ability. Be patient. Be kind. Be understanding.

Sources:,,, Mental Health America, and the Mayo Clinic.

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