It’s not the most wonderful time of the year for everybody. For those coping with depression, the stresses of the season can exacerbate symptoms, resulting in a serious case of the holiday blues.

The holiday season is supposed to be a jolly time full of time with friends and family. However, it can be incredibly draining time of year for people living with mental illnesses like depression. There are a whole flurry of factors that can worsen depression during the holiday season such as elevated stress levels, disrupted schedules, and forced family time. Follow these steps to reduce holiday stress – and maybe even find some holiday joy.

Set a budget.

Financial woes during the holidays can be a serious stressor. Don’t take on more spending than you can handle. Make a list of holiday expenses that includes all of the gifts, traveling, food, and decorations you’ll need to buy and set a realistic budget. Track all of your holiday spending and make sure to stick to your predetermined budget. Swiping credit cards makes it easier to overspend so implement a cash only system.

Be realistic.

The movies portray the holidays as exuberant displays of joy and love. Try your best to get the picture-perfect image of what the holidays are “supposed to be” out of your head. If you don’t have the perfect family during the rest of the year, all of your issues won’t disappear during the holidays. Let go of what you cannot change, accept your reality, and try to enjoy the moment as best you can.

Take a walk.

Moderate exercise may help ease symptoms of depression. Get away from staying cooped up indoors all winter and take a brisk 30 minute walk outside to clear your mind, enjoy the fresh air, and get your blood pumping.

Give yourself a break.

Every day, set aside some solid “me time”. Spend a half hour daily doing something that brings you feelings of peace and happiness. Some self care ideas: practice meditation, work on a puzzle, set up a hot bubble bath, drink cup of cocoa by the fire, curl up with a good book.


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