How to Cope with Depression During the Holidays

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Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression.

The holiday season can often bring unwelcome guests - stress and depression. And it's not wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands - parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.

But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Tips to prevent holiday depression
When stress is at it's peak, it can be hard to stop and regroup. Try taking a proactive approach to the holiday season.

1. Acknowledge your feelings. If this holiday season you are experiencing a loss or are just annoyed of relatives, express your feelings. The more we try to force fake feelings, the worse it can make us feel. 

2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, or other social gatherings. They can offer support and companionship. We naturally want to connect as people, the hardest part is reaching out.

3. Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like every other year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. 

4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are, they are feeling the stress and depression of holidays too.

5. Stick to a budget. It is SO easy to spend a ton of money during the holidays, which just adds to stress. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Try these alternatives -donate to charity in someone's name -give homemade gifts -start a family gift exchange.

6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list.That will help last minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients.

7. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and family will understand if you can't do something. 

8. Take some time for you! Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring your calm. 

Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent that stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Take some time to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressure or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning, some gratitude and positive thinking, you CAN find peace and joy during the holidays.

You rock warrior. Thanks for being you.