How To Avoid Being Depressed During Christmas Time

HHRC-Man felling depressed and lonely during the christmas time

Even though the Christmas holidays are meant to be a time of happiness and celebration, for some people, the holidays are depressing and can be emotionally draining and unpleasant. Indeed, for some, family gatherings, giving and receiving presents, and the entire Christmas holiday experience can be stressful and may lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

A recently conducted survey by the American Psychology Association noted that 38 percent of Americans experienced higher stress, anxiety, and depression levels during Christmas. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that this article offers some practical techniques to help you avoid being depressed during Christmas and enjoy the festive season to the fullest.

Is Holiday Depression a Real Thing?

Many people wonder if Holiday Depression is real, and the answer to that question is yes. It is estimated that in 2020 over 21 million Americans experienced a depressive episode and 10 million of these were examples of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression characterized by its relationship with seasonal changes. It is considered a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) triggered by the changes in season. SAD most often occurs in late fall with the onset of winter, which is why it is sometimes referred to as winter depression.

Research has shown that Seasonal Affective Disorder is more common in the Northern regions where there is a greater variation in light, identifying a direct correlation between variations in light and the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder. For instance, those in sunny Florida fared better mentally as compared to those in gloomy Massachusetts.

For example, people who may not ordinarily suffer from depression may feel depressed during Christmas due to shorter days in the winter. Researchers have also established that the lack of natural light can affect our body’s cycles and neurochemical equilibrium. Furthermore, because it is connected to variations in light, SAD is more frequent in northern regions.

However, it’s important to point out that SAD can affect everyone regardless of location. According to research, clinical depression with a seasonal pattern affects up to 6% of the population.

Aside from the light variations, trying to balance the demands of shopping, parties, family commitments, and home visits may also lead to feelings of overload and increased anxiety. Typical stress reactions to increased anxiety include:

  • Headaches
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Over-eating
  • Insomnia

Another recognized type of depression is post-Christmas depression. Post-Christmas depression can be loosely defined as sadness due to the end of the holidays. Typically this type of depression will be caused by unfulfilled hopes and disappointments, stress, and tiredness at the end of the holiday period.

The Holiday Blues Can Affect Everyone

Can someone who does not generally suffer from depression become depressed around the holidays? The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Remember that depression can occur anytime, anywhere, even for people who do not usually experience it. And because of the aforementioned triggers (lack of sunlight and holiday-related stress), people are generally more susceptible to holiday depression syndrome.

The Christmas season introduces new tensions and expectations, both inwardly and externally, and being overwhelmed by these holiday-related pressures might result in depressive symptoms.

Moreover, moods and behaviors alter as the seasons change. In the winter months, when the days become shorter, and the sunshine is absent, people tend to eat and sleep more. This change in routine bought on by the change in season only has a minimal effect for most, but for others, it can interrupt their lives and trigger significant mental reactions such as depression.

Other Factors Contributing To the Holiday Depression Syndrome

The holiday season may prove exhausting as people try to manage work and personal responsibilities. Plus, Christmas gift-giving and festivities can be financially draining. Put all these factors together, and Christmas can go from a time of festivities and joy to a time of pressure and possible depression.

It’s easy to believe someone else’s life is better than yours and react negatively. And, while the holidays are a time of excitement, individuals sometimes have exaggerated expectations about how fantastic something will be. If such expectations are not satisfied, this can lead to disappointment, sadness, and depression. Similarly, people can be more tempted to compare themselves to others during this time of year. This comparison process may lead to feelings of disappointment and low self-worth, which may lead to people feeling sad during Christmas and even depressed.

Strategies To Prevent Holiday Stress and Depression

People can utilize professionally recognized and established strategies to help prevent stress and Holiday Depression. The most common of these strategies are listed below, and when followed, they will help you minimize the stress and emotional drain that may occur during the Christmas holidays.

1. Recognize your emotions.

If someone dear to you suddenly passes away during the Christmas season, or you cannot be with the ones you love for Christmas, this may cause you to feel disappointment, loss, and grief. You should recognize and express your emotions when confronted with these feelings. Let your feelings out rather than bottling them up inside.

2. Reach out.

If you feel lonely or alone this Christmas holiday, you can engage in communal, religious, or social activities that provide comfort and companionship. Some websites provide professional advice, and online support groups, social media friends, and virtual events can also help. All of these may provide psychological support and companionship.

If you are experiencing Christmas stress, discussing your problems with a friend or family member may be beneficial. Try texting, calling, or video chatting with them.

Volunteering your time or doing something to help others is another excellent method to improve your mood and extend your circle of acquaintances. Consider dropping lunch at a friend’s house or visiting long-time friends you haven’t seen for a while to wish them a merry Christmas.

3. Stay in touch.

The Christmas holidays can be something new and unique, or you can stick with time-honored traditions and make them the same as in preceding years. You can cherry-pick the traditions you wish to keep but simultaneously be open to new options. For example, Christmas is a time of communicating with family members and loved ones. Still, if you cannot physically visit one another, you can always communicate by sending photos or emails or making a video call.

4. Set aside disagreements.

Christmas is about peace on earth and good tidings to all men. As such, Christmas is the perfect opportunity to mend proverbial bridges and prioritize connecting and reconnecting with friends and family. Even if it’s a friend or family member with who you have had disagreements, Christmas is the perfect time to let bygones be bygones and rekindle positive feelings for each other.

5. Maintain a budget.

It is important to adhere to a budget during the Christmas holidays. Check your available funds and decide how much money you can spend on gifts, food, and decorations. Develop a spending plan and stick to it. Always remember, while a present is appreciated, the thought behind the present is what matters.

6. Make a plan.

Plan and allocate time for shopping, cooking, socializing, and other activities with family or friends. Consider whether you can buy any of your things online. Plan your dinners first, and then build a shopping list. This will help you arrange all your activities and prevent you from getting overwhelmed by everything happening during the busy Christmas period.

7. Understand how and when to say no.

One way to lessen stress during Christmas is to learn to say no. Most people want to make other people happy by buying them the Christmas present they have requested, but there are times when that present may be too expensive, and this is when you can save yourself stress by simply saying no.

8. Maintain your healthy behaviors.

With all the celebrations going on during Christmas, it is easy to lose self-control and overindulge. You don’t have to separate yourself from the Christmas festivities, but at the same time, exercise a little self-control and refrain from overindulgence. Don’t allow the holidays to become a free-for-all, as overindulgence will exacerbate any tension or guilt you may feel.

9. Take a deep breath.

Set aside some “me time” for yourself. Choose an activity you genuinely enjoy and take 15 to 20 minutes to partake in it. Even a short interval of indulging in an enjoyable pastime can recharge the batteries and help you relax.

Another way to relax and reduce stress is by controlling your breathing. Set aside time to be by yourself and take a few deep breaths. Breathe in and out slowly, replacing your stress and anxiety with a sense of calm and tranquility. This is a long-established technique practiced by various cultures for hundreds of years.

10. Seek professional help.

Despite your best efforts, you may experience feeling depressed or nervous. Symptoms include the inability to sleep, impatience, a sense of despair, and a general sense of apathy. If these symptoms persist, see your doctor or mental health professional.

The Bottom Line

Experiencing Christmas Holiday Depression makes this supposedly happy period one of sadness and loneliness. However, there are several things you can do to avoid being depressed during Christmas. Begin by focusing on the factors that contribute to your tension and anxiety. Identifying and understanding the trigger factors, such as those highlighted in this article, enables you to minimize the chances of depression.

Haven House Recovery Can Help You

If your depression around the holidays becomes more severe or your melancholy persists after the holidays have passed, your symptoms might indicate a serious mental illness. You might have a disease like severe depressive disorder and need to look into additional treatment choices like psychotherapy and medications.

If your symptoms aren’t improving or you’re unable to function normally, it’s essential to get help from a professional, and that’s where Haven House comes into the picture. The Haven House Recovery Center for addiction recovery in Santa Rosa Beach, FL can assist you in identifying and avoiding depression-trigger factors and help you cope with depression should you experience it during the Christmas holidays. Speak with us immediately if you experience the symptoms of depression during the holidays.