Blue Blue Christmas
When you think of the holiday season, I bet you automatically think of things such as holiday parties, ugly sweater contests, eggnog, making gingerbread houses, driving around to see all the holiday lights, and family celebrations. However, this is not always the case for everyone. For some, what should be a time of celebration, is a time of increased depression, and wanting to isolate in the safety of their own home ignoring the fa-la-la-la fun, which can feel like you are on the island of misfit toys.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of people with an existing mental illness report that the holidays make their condition worse. It is no secret that the holiday craziness of cooking, buying and wrapping presents, keeping children entertained, decorating your home, and cleaning up after family gatherings can exacerbate depressive symptoms, and make us feel more overwhelmed and exhausted. This can lead to some individuals feeling immense amounts of guilt for feeling low. While no one goes into the holiday season hoping to feel like a Scrooge, sometimes life situations, family members, or general mental health can trigger the Christmas Blues.
If your family is similar to the Griswald’s and drives you crazy, or triggers bad memories that make us want to do anything to steer clear of attending the family holiday party. So how do you deal with a triggering family member? Well here are some helpful tips and tools.
Alternatively, suppose you have good family relationships but cannot spend the holidays with them. In that case, that can also trigger an individual to have increased depressive symptoms, isolate themselves, and exacerbate feelings of loneliness. Below are some helpful tools for this individual to manage a holiday season away from loved ones.
We may feel very Grinch-y this holiday season, but remember you are not the Grinch who lives a lonely life on the top of the mountainside, however, current holiday circumstances can make you feel like you are.
But remember whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday, experiencing unhealthy family dynamics, or feelings an increase in depressive symptoms. Yes, you may find yourself longing for the happier holiday traditions of the past—making the present feel even more miserable. But it is important to remember that with each year, holiday plans, traditions, and experiences will change; yes, this is normal for change to occur. With that said, create your holiday traditions.
Most importantly, for those of us who live in an area such as the Midwest where there is sparse amounts of sunlight during the winter months. To put into perspective, holiday depression impacts approximately 1.5% of Floridians as compared to the approximate 10% in northern/midwestern states.
So we need to make sure that we are taking extra steps to help ourselves manage throughout the holiday and winter seasons. This means; making sure you are taking better care of your body (eating healthy, quality sleep, keeping up with hygiene, increasing water intake, etc.). It's important to try and get as much sunlight as possible, so if possible make sure you take time to get outside in the middle of the day when the sun is brightest, or take vitamin D supplements. You can also get a sunlamp. While light therapy is not a cure, it has been shown to help reduce some symptoms of depression.
If symptoms of depression continue to worsen and/or intensify please do not hesitate to seek our support here at OakHeart.