Last week we looked at some ways to combat holiday stress. Lowering expectations, practicing good self-care, and making sensible financial plans are just three ways to manage the season’s additional demands. There are many small ideas that may be helpful, the internet is a wealth of information, and I recommend a quick search if you find yourself overwhelmed.

For many, the holidays, while stressful, are also a lot of fun. The social events, the food, and decorations are things to look forward to. For most people, basic stress-management tools are effective. But for some people, the holidays are more than stressful. Some people become depressed or even more so if already depressed. Depression is not the same as a passing blue mood; it is an illness that often requires treatment. It is NOT weakness of character nor can people with depression just “get over it” or “pull themselves together.” There is a plethora of mental and physical symptoms that accompany depression.

While this post  will not be comprehensively covering depression, we will look at a couple of holiday stressors that may increase depression. (1)Social Isolation is one of the biggest predictors, especially during the holidays. Having a small social circle or already being withdrawn can increase feelings of depression. The best solution is reaching out to friends and family. Talking to your therapist can help alleviate feelings of isolation. (2) Grieving a lost loved one or pet can increase depression; the holidays seem to make loss more keenly felt. Sometimes, creating a new holiday tradition can be helpful. Planning a trip or outing with family and friends rather than being at home are just two ways to shift the holiday energy. Volunteering and getting out in nature can be enjoyable and rewarding ways to alleviate isolation and manage grief during the holidays.

Below you will find some hotline numbers:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
Depression Hotline:   1-630-482-9696
Grief Support:   1-650-321-5272
If you or someone you know feels more than holiday stress, reach out. Sometimes a kind word or gesture can make all the difference. Until next time, use your tools, take care of yourself, and reach out to others when you safely can!

Lori Brandt