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A lot of people look forward to Christmas time, but it’s important to remember that there are many who struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental health difficulties. Christmas depression or ‘the holiday blues’ is sometimes overlooked due to the busy time of year and general festivities, but at Psymplicity Healthcare we want mental wellbeing to take priority all year round.
In this blog, we will be looking at steps you or a loved one can take to help manage Christmas depression this year – and in years to come. But first, we will cover some potential causes of Christmas depression.
Christmas depression can occur for many different reasons and will not affect everyone in the same way. For some people, Christmas might not be a period where they spend lots of time with friends and family – they might in fact find Christmas to be an isolating and depressing time of the year. On the other hand, some may spend time with loved ones but nonetheless feel lonely and isolated due to unpleasant past experiences with specific people, or in similar environments with others. The Christmas period can also be stressful and lack enjoyment for some, due to a number of reasons such as financial difficulties or having too many responsibilities to juggle. Those already experiencing certain anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, may feel their anxiety is particularly exacerbated during this time as socialising with others is encouraged. Below, we highlight some of the primary causes of Christmas depression.
Sometimes, even when we recognise what is causing our depression or general low feelings, we may feel guilty, as if we shouldn’t be feeling down during what is typically a happy time of year – and in many cases this only accentuates the feeling of loneliness. It’s important to remember that although you may feel alone in your Christmas depression, there are many others who are experiencing similar feelings too.
There is a lot of advice that can be found online around dealing with depression, but when it comes to seasonal depression, particularly at Christmas, there are some additional things you could try to keep in mind to help you manage your low mood.
Try not to rely on alcohol to help you feel less anxious. While it can be tempting to drink more at Christmas time, especially if others around you are doing so, try to remember that alcohol works as a depressant. It has a negative impact on mood once the stimulant effects have worn off, and can negatively affect your mental wellbeing.
While the days are much shorter during the winter, try to find the time to venture outdoors whilst it’s still light, even if it’s not for strenuous exercise. A short walk in the morning or during a lunch break can make a significant difference, and provide you with fresh air, sunlight and an opportunity to clear your mind. It is a small lifestyle change that can make a real impact, especially during the festive period.
Advertisements and social media can often lead us to believe that there is such a thing as a ‘perfect’ Christmas, but this isn’t really the case. Try to remember that social media posts are only small snippets of somebody’s day, and are usually edited to appear as aspirational as television adverts. If you find yourself being drawn in by social media, try to limit the time you spend online to lessen your exposure to what seems like the ‘perfect’ Christmas.
Finance can be a concern all year around for many, but this concern can feel magnified around the holiday period. Sometimes salaries and benefit payments can be delayed, or bills can become higher due to increased use of heating and lighting. Try to organise a spending budget for different parts of the holiday (gifts, food, decorations, travel, etc) and keep track of how you are doing. You could also check in with yourself regularly and make cut-backs if necessary. If you have gifts to buy, it can also help to start shopping early so that you can spread the cost and feel more in control of your money. Shopping online is another great way to save as you can avoid panic buying. You are also likely to feel more relaxed when you are away from crowds.
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