10 Tips to Beat Holiday Depression

People who struggle with seasonal affective disorder or depression triggered by the holidays often feel pressured to put on a happy face and pretend they’re okay. Rather than ignoring your emotions, it’s important to understand that how you feel is valid no matter the time of year. Although it may be tougher during a time when everyone is holly and jolly, you can put together a strategy to make the season a bit lighter.

Decorate Your Home

Depression can make it hard for you to see the point in anything, let alone decorating a tree or hanging lights. You don’t have to go all out, but it can be beneficial to have a brighter, happier space. Even just lighting some candles can make your home feel warmer and more inviting.

Make a Maintenance Plan

Plan ahead to put some routines in place for the days you’re struggling the most. This means having a daily routine that’s consistent but adaptive to your ability. If you can’t get out of bed one morning, have an allotted amount of time you’ll sleep in rather than giving up on the whole day. Low-key self-care activities like reading, making art and even napping should be penciled into your schedule and given just as much as a priority as buying gifts and being with others.

Avoid Family Conflict

It isn’t easy, but make sure you stay neutral in any conflicts. It’s also 100-percent okay to avoid meeting with any relatives who only bring you down. Have a few phrases already planned to escape unwanted conversations, like “Let’s talk about this later,” or “I appreciate you sharing your perspective on that, I see what you mean.” Not everything has to be argued or justified.

Don’t Pretend to Be Happy All the Time

Emotional avoidance may provide temporary relief, but it only prolongs problems and leads to more suffering. You might be tempted to push through and pretend you aren’t suffering, but you don’t have to. Appreciate the depth of your feelings, even those that are unpleasant. Talk to a trusted friend, or reach out to a counselor to talk about what you’re going through.

Focus on the People You Love

Spending time with people you care about, even if it’s just on Facetime, can make a big difference in how you feel. Connection wards off the feelings of isolation and unworthiness so common with depression.

Make Sleep a Priority

When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your mood is worsened and it becomes harder to even handle daily responsibilities. Set a sleep schedule that you follow through with no matter what’s going on. That includes activities you can do to combat insomnia rather than scrolling on your phone for hours in the dark.

Avoid Too Much Social Media

Doomscrolling can fuel rumination and anxious thoughts that only worsen depression. You could also fall into the trap of thinking everyone’s holiday season is better than yours when you see their posts gathering with family and friends or decorating. Everyone’s holiday is different, and social media tends to only show the positives.

Get Outside if You Can

Light exposure is important for anyone who experiences seasonal depression. With the sun setting as early as 3:30 PM some days, you need to get as much light as possible. Position your desk by a window, and keep your blinds open so the sun can reach you as soon as you wake up in the morning. If it’s safe for you to do so, go for a short walk around the neighborhood every day, or opt to have your morning coffee on the porch instead of the couch.

Focus on Other Activities

If you’d rather not partake in any of the festivities, that’s okay. Your entire life does not have to revolve around how you’re celebrating or be a rebellion against it. Make some other plans you can look forward to. Starting a new hobby, exercise routine or online class can give you something to focus on that’s productive and draws you out of your depression.

Confront the Pressure to Spend

Christmas isn’t consumerism, no matter what the media makes you think. Go gift-free this year, or arrange a handmade gift exchange with friends and family. Plan to spend quality time together rather than focusing on what you can and can’t afford.

During this difficult time of year, it’s helpful to find resources that give you a safe outlet to talk about your depression. Our virtual counseling services can be accessed anywhere you are with a stable internet connection. Reach out to us today to learn more and book your first session with one of our licensed counselors.