Handling Holiday Depression

Holiday depression -- it's like the Grinch that Stole Christmas. You walk into the mall and you hear joyful holiday music. You take your dog for a walk at night and stroll past an entire block of homes twinkling with festive lights. Your child’s face is full of excitement and anticipation every time she hears the word “Santa.” You should be brimming with excitement, too, right? Unfortunately, if you experience holiday depression, the holidays can feel less happy and more bah humbug. Keep reading for tips to help you deal with holiday depression.

Woman feeling holiday depression

If you experience holiday depression, the holidays can be a difficult time, particularly when your family is happy and expects you to feel the same. Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., explains, "There has been a long standing myth that suicide rates increase over the holiday season. According to the Mayo Clinic this is completely false. What is true is that the rates of [holiday] depression and stress do increase." Dr. Goldsmith offers the following five tips to help you deal with holiday depression.

Number 1Eat well and move!

What you eat affects your mood. Dr. Goldsmith recommends you remain mindful of your meals and snacks. Remember that healthy food can make you feel happy while junk food decreases your energy level, "which can make you feel more stressed and run down," notes Dr. Goldsmith. Holiday depression can worsen with a poor diet. He also recommends exercising to lessen depression and boost your mood -- something as simple as a quick walk after a heavy meal can help.

Number 2You can't do it all

You're a mom, so it's perfectly normal for you to want to do it all. It's almost programmed into our DNA -- trying to make everyone happy is what we do best. However, to take care of yourself, you need to get real about what you can do for everyone else. If you want to stave off -- or at least lessen -- holiday depression, remember that you can't do it all. "Learn to say no, delegate as much as possible and manage your time wisely," explains Dr. Goldsmith. "If you choose to do less you will have more energy to enjoy the most important part of the season -- friends and family." Stress can contribute to depression, so find a way to keep stress in check.

>>Check out these 6 ways to reduce holiday stress!

Number 3Balance your expectations

"You won't get everything you want, things will go wrong and you won't feel like Bing Crosby singing White Christmas," says Dr. Goldsmith. "Remember that everything doesn't have to be perfect and don't worry about things that are out of your control." Basically, reset your expectations to keep holiday depression in check. It's easy to feel down when you feel let down. Avoid that situation by setting realistic expectations from the beginning.

Number 4Mind your holiday budget

What does holiday spending and shopping have to do with holiday depression? A lot! If you're spending money like it's going out of style -- and your budget can't support that -- you will feel the sting, both financially and emotionally. Avoid adding to your stress and holiday depression by setting a realistic holiday budget and sticking to it.

Number 5Avoid the post-holiday letdown

If you're able to keep your holiday depression in check and successfully navigate the season, don't forget about the days, weeks and months following the holidays. "When all the hustle and bustle suddenly stops and you have to get back to the daily grind, it can be a real let down," says Dr. Goldberg. He recommends you avoid feeling post-holiday depression by scheduling a day of rest and relaxation after the celebrations are over.

If you experience mild holiday depression, use these tips -- and others -- to successfully navigate the season. However, if you are concerned that you're experiencing more than the mild blues, please seek help for depression. You are not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Read more about holiday depression

Tips to beat the holiday blahs
How to beat the winter blues

How to get a handle on holiday depression

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