How To Cope with Christmas Depression and the Holiday Blues
The holiday season is not always a joyful time for everyone, and many individuals struggle with their mental health, grief, loss, or distance from loved ones. The image of a merry Christmas dinner with a loving family is not the reality for everyone, despite what social media and commercials may project. So, how can you cope during this tough time? While you cannot control your circumstances, you can still find ways to make the holidays peaceful and restful. In this article, I will provide tips for finding peace during the holidays, even if they cannot be entirely happy. Ultimately, it is about finding peace with your current situation and being kind to yourself.
5 Tips to Cope with Christmas Depression & Holiday Blues
The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of joy and togetherness, but the reality for many people is quite different. Christmas depression and the holiday blues can be a real struggle for those dealing with difficult emotions, stress, or loneliness during this time of year. Let's explore some ways to cope with these challenges and find peace and comfort during the holiday season.
1. Silence your inner critic
One first suggestion I have is to silence your inner critic. We all have this voice inside our heads that can make us feel bad about our current situation or make us feel like we should be experiencing something else. It may say things like "everyone else is happy but you," "you are going to be alone forever," or "your life will always suck." These messages can be overwhelming and burdensome, especially if you are already struggling with something like a divorce grief or mental health issues. So it is crucial to identify when your inner critic is talking and put it aside. Journaling can be a helpful tool to recognize these thoughts and challenge them. Don't let your inner critic make you feel worse than you already do.
2. Practice acceptance
The second step to cope with the holidays blues is to practice acceptance. Acceptance means recognizing that you cannot change your current situation or feelings, and that it is alright. When we stop fighting against the unchangeable, we save a lot of energy and attention that now we can use for other things; in a nutshell, practicing acceptance allows us to protect our mental health. It also helps us stay realistic. It is unrealistic to expect yourself to feel instantly happy after being quite sad for some time. Accepting our emotions and not resisting them can lead to inner peace and self-acceptance. It allows us to acknowledge all of our feelings, both positive and negative, and it helps us embrace ourselves as a whole. When you can accept yourself fully, you can become your own best friend and treat yourself with kindness and compassion—the same compassion with which you would treat your closest friends.
To give one example, if you are experiencing the pain of a breakup or divorce and you are finding it hard to cope with it, acceptance lets you know that this is completely normal. You are a normal human being who is simply in pain because you have a lost an important person in your life. It is ok to be in pain, it is ok to feel sad.
3. Do not compare yourself to others
In addition, I urge you to refrain from comparing yourself to others, as it is unfair and unhelpful. Although everyone goes through painful experiences, it is not fair to compare your present circumstances with someone else's. They may appear to be happy now, but they have undoubtedly experienced pain before or will do so in the future. Comparing yourself to others will only make you feel worse and trigger your inner critic. Therefore, I advise you to take a break from social media. Social media bombards you with images of fake happiness, which can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression. Giving yourself space by unplugging from social media allows you to focus on things that make you happy. This will give you the time and energy to do things that you have been wanting to do for a long time. If you unplug from social media, you will have more time to do things that you enjoy, such as pursuing a hobby that you have always been interested in trying, cooking your favorite meal, or taking a mindful walk in nature. Allowing yourself to explore your interests and passions can help to lift your mood and provide a sense of purpose.
4. Practice gratitude
Another effective way to cope with Christmas depression is to practice gratitude. Even though it may seem difficult to find things to be thankful for when you are feeling down, it is important to acknowledge the good things in your life. One thing you can be grateful for is the environment you are in during the holiday season, even if it does not feel perfect. By practicing gratitude and giving yourself space, you can make it through the holiday season feeling more content and at peace.
One helpful practice is to make a gratitude list. Write down the things in your life that you are thankful for, even the small things. Practicing gratitude can help shift your focus from negative thoughts to positive ones, and it can remind you of the good things in your life. It is also helpful to set realistic expectations for yourself during the holiday season. Do not put too much pressure on yourself to have the "perfect" holiday experience. Instead, focus on what is truly important to you and prioritize those things.
5. Listen to your own needs
Finally, it is important to prioritize your own well-being during the holiday season. If you had plans to attend events or gatherings, but you are not feeling up to it, it is important to allow yourself the space to change your mind. Do not feel obligated to follow through with plans if they no longer feel right for you. It is okay to say no and take care of yourself.
Listen to your own needs and honor them. If you need some alone time, take it. If you need to be surrounded by loved ones, seek them out. If you need to change plans or make new ones, allow yourself that flexibility. Remember, you are in charge of your own life and mental health.
I hope that the ideas I have presented have been helpful in managing Christmas depression. However, if you feel like doing something different, please listen to your own needs first and foremost. Perhaps you feel like going out more, meeting new people or rekindling old relationships in your neighborhood. Alternatively, maybe you feel like staying in more, doing things for others, or taking care of yourself first. Remember, nobody is judging you, and there is no such thing as perfection. It is you who matters, and you know best what you need.
If you are a member of the Academy, I encourage you to have a look at the courses that can help you feel better during these days. For example, there is a course on how to silence your inner critic or how to practice more self-compassion. These courses may sound fluffy, but they can provide you with the feeling of a warm, cozy blanket during these days.
Remember to take really good care of yourself, as you are the most important thing in your life. If you have any questions or need support, I am here to give you as much guidance and tips as possible, so that you can learn how to love yourself first and foremost. Happy holidays and take care.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.
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