The holidays are a time for joy, celebration, family, decorating and feasting, and while a lot of people are excited about all they bring, others actually dread this time of the year. This season can be a difficult, emotionally-loaded time so it’s hardly surprising that increased cases of depression and emotional distress are reported.
If you’re struggling to get into the holiday spirit, remember that you are not alone. Many people experience increased feelings of sadness and loneliness during the holiday season, especially if they are dealing with difficult life circumstances or have lost loved ones. You don’t have to force yourself to get into a happier emotional state, but you can take steps to cope and find some relief.
Reasons Why People Struggle With the Holidays
There are many reasons people get the blues when the holiday season kicks in;
1. The holidays can fall around the anniversary of the death of the loved one, and when the date rolls around, feelings of loss and grief will come up. The holidays might amplify the absence of that person or trigger the trauma associated with their death.
2. Holidays put a lot of emphasis on family, but if you have difficult relationships with your own family, it’s natural to feel alone in that experience. The holidays can leave you feeling bad about not having a loving family, so it’s natural to dread all the events around Christmas and the holidays.
3. This time of the year can also be really hard if you’re not in the best shape financially. Everywhere you go, there are ads of things you could be buying, malls filled to the brim with people holding shopping bags. If you’re struggling financially, this would understandably make it harder to feel any Christmas cheer.
4. In many parts of the world, the holidays coincide with the cold – and this can affect your mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that’s triggered by specific seasons, winter especially. This can certainly make it hard to get into the spirit of things.
5. When Christmas rolls around, remember it’s not just the holidays, it also marks the end of the year. You might be feeling tired and burnt out from everything and additionally, you might have feelings around what you couldn’t accomplish this year. All this can lead to some sadness which would affect how you show up during the holiday festivities.
Take Care of Yourself
It sounds like a cliche at this point, but one way to cope with depression during the holidays is to focus on self-care. This might mean getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in regular physical activity. These simple actions can help to boost your mood and improve your overall well-being. Make an effort to be kind to yourself and do the things that give you joy. The holidays can be a busy and hectic time, and it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Try to prioritize the activities and events that are most important to you, and let go of the ones that don’t matter as much.
Manage Unhealthy Habits
Having difficult feelings around the holiday season can lead to unhealthy and even maladaptive coping mechanisms. Many people find themselves falling into unhealthy habits as a way to suppress their emotions. For instance, the end of the year is a time many people take time away from work, but for some, having free time on their hands is too distressing so they end up overworking which just intensifies the feelings of burnout.
It’s also not surprising that during the holidays many people use alcohol and even drugs as a way to escape what they are feeling. With free time and social gatherings, reaching for that 8th glass of wine feels so much easier than facing what you’re feeling. Excessive drinking can be a sign of a deeper problem and perhaps something that needs more attention. You might need to lean into resources to help you through this, like getting holistic treatment for addiction so you can identify the underlying issues and then learn healthier ways to cope.
Celebrate Your Way
Remember, there’s no pressure to do the holidays one specific way. If you don’t have a good relationship with your family, start your own traditions with yourself or with your friends. You can choose to make this holiday whatever you want instead of trying to force a very rigid image of what it should look like and how to celebrate.
In conclusion, the holiday season can be a challenging time for those dealing with depression. However, by focusing on self-care, setting realistic expectations, reaching out for support, and seeking professional help if needed, you can find some joy and happiness during this special time of year.