The holiday season is well underway as marketing messages bombard us with images of happy friends and families enjoying time together. For many who have depression, however, this season may only serve as a stark contrast to their own emotions, leaving them feeling more lonely and sad than usual.
Our team here at Plymouth Psych Group recognizes the challenges that the holidays present for those who have depression and we want to help, especially this year. As the COVID-19 threat resurges, the holidays are going to look much different this year, creating an even bigger emptiness for many.
To help fill this void, here are a few tips for managing your depression over the holidays.
Under normal circumstances, one of our first suggestions would be to avoid isolation, yet the current healthcare crisis calls for far less social gathering during the holidays.
If you’ve created a safe group of family and friends during this time, we urge you to stay connected to this “pod,” as they're called, through the holidays. While the pandemic provides a reasonable excuse for remaining distant, those who have depression can not afford this type of isolation.
Instead, make the effort to participate in a dialed-back in-person holiday celebration, or at the very least, connect virtually through one of the many apps that allow visual connection. Even religious organizations offer ways for congregants to participate in holiday services from a distance.
The point is that there is support out there, and connecting with other people is one of the most important things you can do to rein in your depression.
One of the hallmarks of depression is a feeling of hopelessness, and the media is serving up nothing but bad news these days. While we recognize that it’s important to stay current, many experts are cautioning against indulging too much in the news and even have a word for it: “doomscrolling.”
If you find yourself scrolling deeper and deeper into the news on your phone, reading one depressing article after another, put your phone down. Please remember that this type of doomsday news sells, but it hardly paints the whole picture.
When you put aside doomscrolling, you can use this time to create a little bit of warmth in your own space. Even if you’re not feeling it, try to put out some festive decorations, lights, or candles. These little gestures can brighten up the otherwise dreary and short days of winter, which is especially important if your depression is on a more seasonal cycle.
If you’re feeling particularly sad, acknowledge and honor these feelings, but try not to let them overshadow everything else. Recognizing these moods and then moving on is far easier than fighting them from the moment they appear.
If you have some experience with depression, you likely already have a sort of toolkit in place to help manage your moods. Things like scented candles, a weighted blanket, photos, music, or whatever it is that provides you comfort will serve you well over the holidays.
While these creature comforts can offer some solace, please try to avoid destructive habits like binge eating or drinking alcohol. These “comforts” may take the teeth out of your depression for a short period, but the aftermath can leave you in a far worse place.
We know it’s been a tough year, and if you have depression, you’re likely feeling it all the more acutely. Still, we urge you to find something you’re grateful for, even if it’s something as small as the fact that the sun comes up every day. By focusing on what’s good rather than on all that you feel is wrong, it provides hope -- and hope is paramount.
Lastly, please know that we are here to help you manage your depression over the holidays. Whether through ongoing support or by putting a plan in place beforehand, our team is by your side.
If you want to talk with us, contact our office in Plymouth, Minnesota. You can call us or click the “request appointment” button to schedule either an in-person or telehealth visit.