Overcoming the Holiday Blues: Depression & Sadness
- Publish Date: 2013/12/04 - (Rev. 2015/12/22)
- Author: Disabled World
- Contact : Disabled World
Outline: Information regarding feeling down, lonely, and depressed over the winter holiday period.
The holiday season, for many people, brings depression along with it. Instead of fighting or attempting to resist depression related to the holidays you may choose to understand or use depression as a path to healing. You might notice the holidays can bring up painful as well as pleasant emotions. Prior holiday experiences might have been hard, or life might not have been as fulfilling as you may have wanted it to be. You might experience sadness, loneliness, or even anger.
Interestingly, these feelings are not really the issue. If you look deeply into yourself you might notice that not only do you feel some pain, you may also be comparing yourself with other people; 'Everyone else seems to be happy, what is wrong with me' If so, this is where the issue actually begins.
Hurt, loneliness, anger and sadness are all human emotions and are not the same as depression. Depression is a different feeling and happens when emotional pain arises but thinking that there is something wrong with it, we do not allow ourselves to feel it. Instead, we block the emotion out and tell ourselves that there is something wrong with ourselves for feeling this way. We feel bad and at the same time tell ourselves that somehow we are bad; this is depression.
For Your Mind
Accepting your depression does not mean giving in to it; it simply means accepting that it is present in your life at the moment so you can work with it. If depression comes in part from rejecting your feelings, rejecting the depression will only make things worse. Meditate to contact your deeper emotions.
Chart showing holiday psychological traps
Depression is many times frozen anger or grief, if you can feel the warmth of deeper feelings you can sometimes start to decrease the depression you feel. Try this awareness meditation a number of times a week for ten minutes. Sit with your eyes closed for five minutes and concentrate on your breathing. Silently ask yourself what else you are feeling. Find out if along with the depression you are feeling any sadness, hurt, or anger. If you are, open up to it and allow yourself to feel it more deeply and find out what happens.
Be nice to someone else. Unfortunately, it is often times easier for us to be nice to another person than it is to be nice to ourselves. We can use this tendency to help heal the depression we may experience. When we do small acts of kindness for another person, at that moment we come into healing contact with our own capacity to care.
Bear in mind that as painful as it is, in the end depression may lead you to explore healing approaches that you might otherwise never have attempted. The result is that you might not only ease your own depression, you may also become a more happy person. Depression can be transformed from something unwelcome into a friend through introspection.
Contemplate the depression you experience, try to understand it. You are not alone where holiday depression is concerned, a number of people experience it. Understand that sadness, anger, and loneliness do not indicate there is something wrong with you, in fact just the opposite. These emotions show that you react to painful situations and that you feel and are alive; something that is healthy. What is so hard for us to understand is that there is never one correct way to feel in any particular situation. We must allow ourselves to feel, be, and accept ourselves completely, not matter what we are experiencing, to include pain. Doing so leads to the greatest happiness.
For Your Heart
Practice self-caring meditation. A lot of the pain of depression comes from the way we criticize ourselves. We can learn and practice a different way. Sit with your eyes closed and think of something about yourself that is difficult to accept. Let your mind bring up an image of a person you know really cares for you. Visualize or hear this person accepting and forgiving you for what you find difficult to accept. Try this for five minutes a few times each week.
Chart showing small pleasures that can help the holiday blues
Take time and practice pleasure, yes pleasure. Pleasure and joy are enemies of depression. Even when we are depressed there might be some small thing that really pleases us such as:
- A poem
- A hot bath
- An old movie
- A favorite song
- A piece of chocolate
Even a small amount of pleasure might perk you up and remind you that life can be alright.
For Your Body
Move, exercise, and do energy work. Aerobic exercise for thirty minutes, four or five times each week. Yoga, tai chi, and chi kung are all simple, safe, and effective anti-depressants.
Could this be SAD
The question of why some people experience sadness during what is supposed to be a happy time of year is one that people wonder about. The answer is that there are both emotional and biological triggers. The most common biological cause, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), stems from the declining number of hours of sunlight during winter. Do not assume you experience SAD simply because your emotional issues become worse during winter months. At times, depression or anxiety just happen to appear around the holidays.
Whether or not there are biological factors involved, the holiday season is filled with psychological booby traps. Office parties may feel like just more work. Vacations might add more stress if you have unresolved issues or if the cost is to much. Seeing more of your extended family over the holidays may, for a number of people, trigger uncomfortable or unhappy memories or behaviors. Pressure to give the right gift at the right price may be paralyzing.
The coming of the new year might remind you of financial, professional, or personal disappointments experienced during the prior year and of the uncertainty that lies ahead. For some people, all of the holiday parties might be a temptation to pursue excessive drug and alcohol. Even good news might trigger unhappiness. A well-earned vacation makes some people feel guilty. Family and personal success may lead to envy or even squabbles among family members. Some people carry expectations that the new year must be better than the last one.
Dealing with the Holiday Blues
How do you know if you are experiencing problems during the holiday season? Watch out for any of these warning signs:
- Significant emotional pain
- Other people telling you that you have an issue
- Emotions or behaviors that interfere with regular activities
Just recognizing that you are experiencing an emotional issue may often times go a long way toward dealing with it. Use coping skills such as spending more or less time with your family, cooking favorite meals, attempting to avoid arguments, and talking things through with trusted family members and friends. If these steps do not work, you might pursue professional assistance. A thorough evaluation should look at potential medical, biological, and psychological causes. Once the factors causing the issue have been identified, treatment can be planned and carried out. For the holiday blues, this will usually involve some type of psychotherapy and possibly medication.
One of the most important things you can do to beat the holiday blues is this - no matter what is happening in your life, think of the blessing you do have. Take account of all of the positive things in your life. Doing so can help immensely and go a long way toward ending the holiday blues.
- 1 - Strategies to Recognize and Overcome Depression | Martina Roe | 2016/06/14
- 2 - Stimulating the Pleasure Center to Treat Depression | Elsevier | 2010/01/26
- 3 - Dysthymia: A Form of Mild Chronic Depression | Thomas C Weiss | 2014/03/21
- 4 - Postnatal Depression Symptoms and Information | Thomas C. Weiss | 2009/04/29
- 5 - Where You Live Can Affect Your State of Mind | Elsevier Health Sciences | 2009/04/14
- 6 - Effective Ways to Reduce Stress and Depressed Mood During the Holidays | Mark Lakewood | 2009/10/06
- 7 - The Neural Basis of the Depressive Self | European College of Neuropsychopharmacology | 2010/08/31
- 8 - Social Media Use Associated With Depression in Young Adults | UPMC | 2016/03/30
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