6 Coping Strategies to Manage Depression Symptoms While on Vacation
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! For some, at least. The sights and sounds of the holidays are all around us, but if you’re feeling less than cheerful this holiday season, you’re not alone.
Of course, vacations can be magical for many people. But the reality is that they’re often accompanied by a few extra guests, and we’re not just talking about your great-aunt and great-uncle. Depression and stress can increase during times when we are socially and financially overburdened. And what is a vacation if not a time to attend events you wouldn’t normally attend and spend money you wouldn’t normally spend?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with mental illness find that holidays make their condition worse. And that doesn’t even include people with undiagnosed mental illness.
Here are some common signs of depression to be aware of during the holiday season:
- Loss of interest in things you used to love
- feeling more tired than normal
- Sleep problems
- Increased anxiety
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
If you notice any of these symptoms appearing or just want to get ahead of them, here are some strategies to help you deal with the holiday blues.
And for more tips to help combat depression and holiday stress, here are six practical strategies for managing holiday stress and breathing exercises to help ease your stress.
Strategies for coping with depression this holiday season
The World Health Organization reports that approximately 280 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with depression. Although depression is common, it is a serious health condition that should not be taken lightly. More than 700,000 people die each year by suicide, often as a result of depression.
If you’re feeling down or very stressed this holiday season, there are ways to improve your mental health while having a great holiday.
Recognize your symptoms
Nobody knows you better than you. Look for signs and symptoms that may be out of the norm. Here are a few :
- You feel more withdrawn than usual.
- You behave more erratically or impulsively than usual.
- You are more irritable more often.
- You feel sad, lonely or hopeless.
- You are having trouble sleeping.
It’s always a good idea to pay attention to concerns expressed by close friends and family. If the people who love you are worried about your mental health, they may be showing symptoms of depression that you are not aware of.
If you have some or all of these symptoms, recognizing that holiday stress or depression may be the cause will help you feel better.
give yourself grace
The holiday season is a time to show kindness, generosity and compassion to others. So much so, perhaps, that you could leave yourself out.
Giving yourself grace can mean different things to different people, but the general idea behind it is self-compassion. Train yourself to extend the same compassion you show to others, to yourself. For example, if your friend felt bad during the holidays, what would you tell him? Now imagine you are telling yourself the same thing in this situation.
It’s okay if you can’t attend all the parties or if you just don’t want to. It doesn’t matter if you don’t buy the most expensive gifts or any gifts at all. It’s perfectly normal not to fit in with cultural norms that leave you feeling pressured, stressed, or anxious.
Keep your plans realistic
Depending on your situation, you may have invitations to multiple holiday parties with family, friends, work, church, and other social groups. Or, you may have no invitations at all. Your self-esteem doesn’t depend on how many holiday events you attend this year. Accept only invitations you want to accept and avoid overspending.
Set a realistic budget for buying gifts. This budget should not cause financial hardship or distress. You can say “no” in cases where it is necessary, such as a group gift where the shared cost is far too high for you.
Sometimes unrealistic expectations are the ones we set on others. Then, if they don’t quite come together, we’re disappointed. Remember this holiday season to avoid setting expectations for others, as this will help you avoid disappointment, but it will also help your loved ones not feel unnecessary pressure which could lead to their own holiday blues.
The holiday spirit is a common tradition, whether at parties, sitting down with family and friends, or going out for other events. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the sometimes relaxing effects of alcohol outweigh the negative ones. When you consume too much, alcohol can quickly go from relaxing to depressing.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and affects mood and behavior. Even after the alcohol is out of your system, hangovers are known to increase anxiety and stress levels.
To reduce the negative effects of alcohol this holiday season, limit yourself to one to two drinks.
Careful consideration should be given by your physician before consuming alcohol while taking prescribed antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.
Instead of a Christmas cocktail, try cheerful foods this year to boost your mood.
Lean on your family and friends
Spending time with people you love can be a wonderful mood booster. Being in the company of those we love can increase our feelings of acceptance, comfort, and security. If you have the holiday blues, you can talk about it with your loved ones so they can show you the support you need. If they know what’s going on with you, they can be a better support system.
Don’t be afraid to get help
When you are showing signs of depression, help can come in many forms. But the most important thing to remember is to never be ashamed to ask for help. Whether it’s talking to a loved one, seeking help from a mental health professional, or discussing medications or treatment options with a medical professional, it’s important to get the help you need.
If the holidays are tough for you, you’re not alone. Depression and feelings of anxiety are common results of the overspending, excessive hours, and loneliness that vacations often bring. Let self-care and a stress-free life be the gifts you give yourself this holiday season.
For more tips on improving your mental health, check out our tips for boosting productivity and how to declutter your life.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.
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