It seems strange that so many people feel depressed during the holidays, when it’s a time is a time when we’re supposed to feel joyful. The experience of feeling down during the holidays is real for so many, however. So what can you do to avoid the “ holiday blues ” this coming season?
If you want to know how to beat depression this holiday season, try these 3 simple steps:
- Stop comparing yourself to others
I have found that holiday time, when we have gatherings with friends and family, can stir up feeling of envy and even jealousy for others’ circumstances. We look at their outsides and compare them with our insides. And of course, we come up short. They always seem to have it better than we do…more money, better clothes, perfect spouse. This kind of comparing can cause our mood to spiral down faster than anything. All of a sudden there’s nothing good about our lives! We forget our blessings and focus on what’s wrong. You don’t know how others are feeling on the inside. When we compare we forget that numerous people are miserable in spite of having much material success.
The only way out of this comparing trap is to stop comparing and start counting your blessings. What we focus on grows; so if you focus on what you don’t have, you will notice even more of what you lack. If you focus on your good (which is no doubt plenty) an awareness of all that is good will grow. Watch your thoughts and strive to keep them positive and grateful.
- Don’t isolate
Isolation is an easy trap, especially if we live alone. Resist the seductive siren song of that voice inside that says, “I’d rather be alone”. It may feel cozy and cushy to sit at home with your favorite food and drink and think you’re having fun…but isolation is sneaky. Before long it has moved in and become your constant companion, making you depressed and filled with self-pity. Make it a point to make dates with friends and to get out and do things in the community. The best thing you can do at holiday time is to try and be helpful to those less fortunate or who can’t get out and do things, like the elderly and infirmed. Push yourself to get busy and active in being helpful to others so you won’t have time to isolate.
When you focus on activities that nourish your soul, like going for a walk with a good friend, or calling family members that might be feeling lonely or disconnected, you will feel better and more alive. You will recognize that you have an important purpose in this world…to bring light and comfort to others.
- Lower your expectations
I find that the higher my expectations are for having a “good time”, the less fun I have. This is especially true at New Year’s Eve. In fact, I purposely make very low-key plans for this holiday, just so I don’t feel pressure to have loads of fun. I go to a movie with a few friends and call it a night, maybe watching the ball drop in Times Square. That’s it. So if I have a nice night, it’s a bonus, not something I’ve felt pressure to achieve. Our thoughts create our reality, so treat holidays like any other day and allow the day to unfold, rather than falling into the trap of unrealistic expectations.
Feeling turbulent emotions during the holidays can happen to any of us. What you do about it will make all the difference. Positive action is the best antidote for the holiday blues, so get started on these suggestions today.
Tricia Nelson is the host of the Heal Your Hunger podcast and founder of Heal Your Hunger Inc., which helps people get to the heart of why they overeat and how to stop. Get more of Tricia’s free holiday tips here.