Patient Blogs | Depression
How to Enjoy the Holidays While You're Depressed
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Growing up, I loved the holiday season and would look forward to it a lot. However, when I’m in a depressive episode, nothing excites me. The holidays started to feel sad to me because I knew how much joy they brought me in the past. The hole in my chest from depression feels more noticeable around the holidays.

Appreciate the holidays for what they are. 

The holidays can be challenging because it’s a social time. You may have more social obligations than you usually do. Going to multiple parties can be exhausting, especially with depression. Go easy on yourself and attend what you can. We can’t control when a bad depression day comes. Sometimes it comes on a holiday. If this is the case, just do the best you can while celebrating. Also, it’s OK to celebrate holidays on different days than the holiday falls on. If you are having a hard mental health day on a holiday, you can still celebrate a few days or weeks later. 

It may also be a difficult time if there are people you are missing this holiday season. If that is the case, I’m so sorry. Doing some of the traditions you did with your people can help when you’re missing them. 

Don’t put unrealistic expectations on the holiday season. 

Despite the movies, one Christmas season isn’t going to solve all your problems. If you look at these next few months as regular months with some extra activities to do, it doesn’t put pressure on the season. When you’re depressed, feeling disappointed can feel very heavy. I’ve found if I put unrealistic expectations on Christmas Day and it doesn’t live up to my expectations, it can be disappointing and make me feel worse. To help with this, I’ve been dropping my expectations on special days. I let the day be what it is: just a day. If the day turns out to be uneventful, I’m not disappointed. If the day turns out to be great, then that lifts my mood. 

Do something to make you motivated to get up and go to social gatherings. 

If there’s a special dish you love to eat, bring it. If you’re traveling, get a book or new music. Focus on the positives when it comes to the holidays. 

Make sure you get enough sleep.

It’s easy to not prioritize sleep during the holidays because we are doing more activities. Making sure you’re sleeping enough will help keep your mental health and mood elevated. 

Know that there will come a holiday season when you won’t feel like this.

When I was in high school, I was really depressed during the holidays. I remember dreading the family parties because I would have to put a smile on my face and pretend like it wasn’t almost impossible to get out of bed that morning. Now I’m able to be excited for the holidays again and look forward to seeing the people I love.

Go enjoy the holidays, your bed will still be there when you return.

To connect with other people living with depression join our Depression Facebook Support Group.

 

 

Photo Credit: SrdjanPav / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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Katharine Hartleb

Katharine Hartleb

Diagnosed since 2014

Katharine Hartleb was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2014, at age 16. She has a passion for helping others and plans on becoming a mental health counselor. Hartleb lives in Charleston, SC, and is a recovery coach at a substance use disorder facility. She is also a young adult presenter for NAMI, sharing her personal story. Connect with her through her personal Instagram and her kat4kindness Instagram.

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