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Down in the Dumps Part 4: Five Ways to Cope with Depression During the Holidays
Hello and welcome to my blog series: Down in the Dumps. This blog series was created to provide tips and suggestions for people who have been diagnosed with depression. As someone who struggles with depression on a daily basis, in this blog I will be providing tips on a variety of subjects including counselling, sleep, food, exercise, self-care and more.
It’s that time of year again: the holidays. The holidays are a time for eating, shopping and spending time with family. While the holidays are supposed to be fun and cheerful, the reality is that when you are depressed, it can be hard to cope during this festive season. If you can relate, you are not alone. According to Psychology Today, there are findings from surveys that say that people often feel more stress, anxiety and depression from American Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. So if you feel like you have an especially rough time during the holidays, here are five ways to cope with your depression during this holiday season.
- Ask for help
With all the shopping, cooking and decorating that goes into the holidays, it can feel overwhelming and exhausting trying to do it all alone, especially when you’re depressed. That’s why it is so important to reach out and ask for help. Whether you delegate shopping tasks to family members or call up a friend when you are feeling down, reach out to your family and friends for support.
- Don’t isolate
When I am going through an episode of depression, I will often try to shut the whole world out by declining invites to get-togethers and social gatherings. I am here to tell you that even if it’s hard, do your best to spend time with people who love you and care about you like family and friends. Now I’m not saying that you have to go to every event you’re invited to, but by staying home curled up in a ball rather than accepting invitations for that family dinner might actually make you feel more sad and depressed. So take a chance and go to that social function. You might actually have fun.
- Do something that feels fun
The truth is that holidays can feel stressful. From shopping in crowded malls to listening to that one conservative relative make racist and homophobic comments at family dinner, it can all be a lot sometimes. That’s why it is important to schedule in some fun activities to do as well. Some fun activities I like to do include baking some cookies, having a Christmas movie marathon, go skating, or even grab a nice yummy warm drink at a nearby coffee shop. For more ideas on what to do during the holidays, check out 20 Things to Do When You Are Alone on the Holidays.
- Give back
When I feel depressed, I often get so wrapped up in my negative thoughts and sad emotions that I often forget about everyone else. Some advice that my counsellor once told me was when you are feeling really low, compare yourself to someone who is having a harder time than you are. As a result, not only do I put myself in the shoes of people who are having a hard time (i.e. people who lack food, water, clothes and shelter), but I also like to give back to the community. Whether you help out at a soup kitchen or donate some of your old clothes to charity, thinking about and helping out people who are less fortunate than you can really put things in perspective.
- Lower your expectations
I think there’s this idea of perfection around the holidays that needs to be eliminated. I think that many people (including myself) have this idea in their heads that the holidays are all about getting the perfect presents, eating delicious food and laughing with their family and friends under twinkling lights. But the reality is that you might not get the perfect gift, the food may not be great, and there will probably be some family drama. But you know what? It’s okay. The only thing you can change is how you deal with it, so just lower your expectations and try to find joy in the little moments.
The bottom line
The holidays can be a festive and happy time for many, but it can be hard when you are depressed. With these five tips, you can be better able to cope with your depression during this stressful time of year. Just remember to be gentle to yourself and feel free to reach out to a professional if you are really struggling.
As always, remember: you are strong, you are worthy, and you are capable of amazing things.
Anika is a student at Western University studying media studies and creative writing. After being diagnosed with anxiety, depression and a skin picking disorder in her first-year of university, she became an advocate for mental health awareness. When she is not studying or writing, she can be found baking, scrap-booking, playing video games, or watching movies and TV shows.
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