The holidays are certainly one of the most special times of year for being with friends and loved ones. It’s also a time when many people deal with depression due to situations such as:
- Estrangement from family
- Financial difficulties
- Job loss
- Loss of a friend or loved one
And some people deal with chronic depression on a daily basis.
Being prepared with coping skills can help people dealing with depression be better able to handle difficult emotions and situations. Here’s what I recommend to those who struggle:
- First of all, know your limits. If you know that attending a holiday party or get-together is going to be dramatic or stressful, it’s OK to say “No.” If you must attend, set a time limit where you can be social, and leave before you start feeling overwhelmed.
- Call friends or family if you’re able to. Let someone know when you’re feeling down. Your friends and family may be able to offer practical solutions to help you.
- Volunteer your time. If you don’t have friends or family to spend the holidays with, volunteering your time to help others such as the elderly or people who are homeless can help keep you occupied. This can not only take your mind off of stressful situations, it can give you company and help someone else in need.
- Seek help. Knowing when to ask for help can be difficult. But if your depression lasts more than a few days or a couple of weeks, seeking professional help may be necessary. Talking with your doctor or a mental health professional can help you chart a course of action to decrease or eliminate your symptoms of depression. There is no shame in asking for help and you should not feel guilty for feeling depressed.
The holidays can be challenging, but knowing your needs and having a plan of action can help you not only get through the holidays, but enjoy them too.
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Jennifer Loreman is a licensed professional counselor and program manager at a secure treatment center for adolescent girls in northeast Ohio.