The holiday season is a joyous occasion for many, but not everyone is quick to get into the spirit. In fact, depression and anxiety can become prominent during this time of the year, particularly as friends and family come together.
“Holidays can be a time when the things that trigger depression–grief, disputes, transitions–are in abundance,” says Myrna Weissman, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of epidemiology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute (Patoine, 2015). “Loved ones may have died or aren’t able to be nearby, so a person is alone and grieving. Disputes can arise that may be suppressed during the rest of the year because people aren’t seeing one another or don’t have the same expectations as they might have around the holidays. Transitions–all of the normal and abnormal kinds of changes in one’s life, such as children leaving home, moving–these things can make it more difficult to see loved ones or experience the same interactions.”
So what can be done about feelings of anxiety and depression during this time of the year? Here are a few tips for coping with the highs and lows of the holiday season.
- Speak to a professional.
If you are experiencing unusual feelings of sadness or anxiety, do not hesitate to contact a medical professional for more insight. He or she can help you explore your depression and consider next steps for potential treatment, which may involve medication.
- Make “me” time.
It can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of celebrations during the holidays, so make it a point to pencil in “me” time in your schedule. Giving yourself a breather can ensure that you aren’t putting too much pressure on yourself in between gatherings.
- Set a budget.
Financial strain can cause stress, regardless of the time of year. To ensure your gift shopping doesn’t result in this type of stress, set a budget for yourself. Doing so can simplify the gift-giving process as a whole.
- Get involved.
Getting involved in your community and staying connected to people can fight off the blues that come with isolation during the holidays (“Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping,” 2017). See if there is a food pantry you can work with or a town/citywide event seeking volunteers. Putting yourself out there can help you establish bonds and garner support when you’re feeling seasonal depression.