The holiday season brings events, gatherings, and celebrations that may fill you with anticipation, as well as anxiety. In fact, a recent survey found that 38% of respondents experience an increase in stress levels during the holiday season.
As wonderful and as blessed as this time of year is, it can bring about feelings of loneliness, isolation, grief, and sadness for people with depression. “Depression around the holidays can happen for many reasons, says Akua Boateng, PhD, a Philadelphia-based psychotherapist... “The holidays bring an increase in thoughts about family, relationships, and social engagement. If there are issues within these dynamics in our lives, depression can surface,” Dr. Boateng says (everydayhealth.com).”
However, if you are currently dealing with depression, these thoughts and situations can worsen depression symptoms. Part of our mission at Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries is to provide education to help individuals better understand themselves so they can move forward in faith. If you or someone in your life is living with depression, here are ways to cope through the holidays.
During this season, it’s important to prioritize your own well-being. When the pressure and expectations feel overwhelming, set boundaries accordingly. For example, if certain people or situations cause you to feel negative emotions or exacerbate your depressive symptoms, establish boundaries for your interactions or limit your availability.
However, boundaries should not be about just saying no to things that drain your energy but also saying yes to things that lift you up and bring you joy.
Self-care is about treating yourself with kindness, forgiveness, and consideration - just like you would a friend or family member. Taking care of yourself is vital during the holidays and can include:
Acknowledging your feelings
Resting when needed
Maintaining a support network
While the holiday season is a joyous time, it doesn’t banish or cure depression.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11
Focus on Faith
Depression can take hold of every aspect of a person’s life, making it hard to find joy and positivity. As a result, a person living with depression needs faith more than ever.
Continue reading the Bible and praying.
Thank God for loving you and bringing you through this season of life. God’s Word, not your present emotional outlook, is your authority.
Thank God for caring for you and loving you even when you can’t feel or see it.
Avoid Unhealthy Habits
The holiday season is a time to celebrate and come together, and it’s okay to do so with a glass of wine or cocktail. However, if you or someone you love is dealing with depression, it’s important to always drink in moderation.
While alcohol can provide a temporary relief from anxiety, “drinking will only make depression worse. People who are depressed and drink too much have more frequent and severe episodes of depression (WebMD).”
Consider Giving Back
A 2021 review found that volunteering for two or three hours a week or even just 1 to 10 hours a month can offer myriad mental health benefits, such as:
Meaning and purpose
Feeling like you matter
Contributing to society
Being part of something larger than yourself
Of course, you want to find a volunteer opportunity that’s right for you, and focus on what you’re comfortable with and which causes you’re passionate about. For instance, if spending time with animals brings you joy and helps you relax, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter.
We’re Here for You
Depression is treatable, and Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries works with individuals to help them understand depression, themselves, and find hope and purpose in their faith. Contact us to learn more.