We are socialized to believe that this time of the year is supposed to be the happiest – filled with food, family, cheer and even some relaxing time off. So why is it that the National Institute of Health reports that there is often a rise in depression, and although not the highest, but higher reports of suicide? Could it be the shorter days and darkening skies at 4pm? Is it the rise in SAD? (Seasonal Affective Disorder) These may contribute, but are not the root of the problem.
Often, this time of year comes with immense stress. Students are approaching final assignments and exams, work becomes busier and stress builds up. So what is it that really triggers Christmas blues?
- Financial stress of gift giving
- Increase in social events and family gatherings
- This may be based on the loss of a loved one or loss of a job
So what should you do if you’re experiencing an increase in depression?
First, you should seek help from a qualified mental health practitioner, and if that seems overwhelming you can always confide in a trusted friend or family member who will help you find the proper resources you need.
- Focus on the positive things in your life, try not to dwell on what you don’t have
- Set boundaries, especially regarding your finances – don’t create unnecessary stress for yourself
- Gift giving can be personal and budget friendly
- If you are religious, attend respective events for your church or organization
- Keep yourself busy – grab coffee with friends or relax by yourself with a good book
- Journal about your holiday blues
- If old traditions are no longer feasible, make new ones
- Volunteer your time to help organizations that provide assistance at Christmas time
There are many ways you can fight the holiday blues, but don’t forget that seeking help may be exactly what you need, it may help you understand an underlying condition.