When you’re coping with depression or anxiety, particularly around the holidays, getting seasonal depression help is key. This article suggests ways to manage stress and grief the holiday season can bring.
Unfortunately, the Christmas season isn’t always the idyllic stuff of Dickens’ novels or a picturesque scene from a Rockwell painting. In fact, for many people who suffer from depression or anxiety, Christmas can be a trigger that sets off the blues in big ways. With several stressors arising around this time of year, it’s important to adopt strategies that will help you or someone you care for receive seasonal depression help effectively.
Why Do So Many Of Us Need Seasonal Depression Help?
Whether you suffer from seasonal depression or cope with depression or anxiety year-round, these feelings often stem from negative or traumatic experiences with family or loved ones. The holiday season can bring a lot of mixed feelings to the surface.
For example, while Christmas generally brings people together, it is also a painful reminder of those who are no longer present. Many people with depression might struggle with the loss of a loved one during the holidays, and the gathering of family is a painful reminder that this person is no longer in their life.
Individuals who have experienced conflict within their family may stress over empty seats at the table. Or, they may be exposed to the family members or friends who they are in conflict with, and these people trigger panic attacks or feelings of bitterness, sadness, or remorse.
Expressing Your Feelings Can Help Lessen Seasonal Depression or Anxiety
Whatever your family situation, one way to get seasonal depression help is by speaking with a therapist or trusted friend about your feelings and thoughts. Maybe you can brainstorm solutions together. But even if coming up with strategies for dealing with the situation fall to you alone, it will do you good to express yourself.
For coping, think of a potential stressor and plan ahead for a solution. Make a list of healthy coping strategies and keep it with you or memorize it so you’re ready. For example, if Uncle Dennis brings up politics, then you can leave the room, politely dismiss the comment, talk to someone else, etc. Do whatever you can do to avoid a potential fight that could leave you feeling anxious or depressed for weeks or even months.
If you have lost a loved one, perhaps you can buy a wreath to honor their memory or share a favorite story associated with them to generate more positive thoughts than sad ones.
If you're celebrating the holidays alone, make a list of favorite movies to watch or activities you can do to stay busy. This can be especially helpful if you have had a previous substance abuse problem or use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate when things get stressful. Keeping busy and making sure you stay in contact with an AA or NA sponsor, or supportive friend, can help you avoid falling back into bad habits because of a heightened level of depression or anxiety.
Financial Frustrations And Christmas Expectations
Another trigger for seasonal depression is the financial pressure that often comes with Christmas. Today, Christmas is so commercialized and competitive. Combine that with the fact that mobile devices mean reminders of Christmas pop up everywhere we go, and it can be difficult for individuals with financial problems to avoid becoming overwhelmed during Christmas time.
Destructive spending and shopping have been known to be addictive behaviors that later cause depression and anxiety, usually about debt. Sadly, problem spending becomes a habit. If you have financial troubles leaving you with anxiety or depression, don't let Christmas trigger a spending spree.
Remember that holiday advertisements create a lot of undue social pressure that you don’t have to fall prey to. If relatives, significant others, or friends have a problem with not getting the latest gizmo, then that's not the true spirit of Christmas.
If financial troubles bring up depressive and anxious thoughts or make you avoid gatherings you want to be a part of, take a moment to regroup and rethink. The misguided priorities of others do not have to mirror your own. You can also always minimize expenses by budgeting for smaller gatherings, making your own gifts, and narrowing down who you purchase gifts for and how much you spend. The last thing you want to do is make your financial problems worse.
Some families make a pact about who they will shop for and how much they’ll spend ahead of time to alleviate anxiety over gift-giving in order to help with seasonal depression. Others might choose to take a “Secret Santa” approach so that each family member only purchases one big gift for someone else to keep costs collectively down. Friends might agree not to purchase for each other and siblings might agree to only buy for nieces and nephews, not the adults.
Or maybe your solution will be to enjoy a potluck meal together followed by a screening of a favorite movie so the expenses of the holiday are shared and the time spent together is the gift.
The Benefits of Getting Seasonal Depression Help
Whatever your concerns, it is possible to have a memorable Christmas, even with seasonal depression or anxiety in tow. Use coping skills, stay close to your support network, and have the right values in mind and you can keep the holidays bright.
To learn more about CareSync and its support for individuals, family members, and caregivers, please visit our website.