Depression and the Holidays

As the holidays approach I start to think about what this season does to people emotionally.  Our expectations tend to be like a Hallmark movie or a Norman Rockwell painting.  We want the perfect family gathering where everyone laughs, gets along and make lasting memories of joyous fun.  Unfortunately, reality sets in and people are stressed because they are overworked, underpaid and trying to make the holidays a wonderful experience for all.

Imagine yourself planning a glorious holiday with all the family when your sister and brother-in-law are about to divorce but are putting on a front to be with the family.  Your teenage daughter is having sex with a guy you don’t like and has an attitude about being with the family for the holiday.  Your mother comes to your house and tries to criticize your housecleaning and how you’ve decorated.  These are just a number of things you don’t see in a Hallmark movie.  There isn’t a good ending.  Life is hard.

So how do we face the holidays without going crazy and being disappointed?  Here are a few tips of how you can make the holidays a little easier.

Tips to Avoid Depression over the Holidays

  • Delegate tasks to family members so you aren’t doing everything yourself and burning out.  Even if they don’t do it the way you would, it is better you don’t do all the work as you can become bitter and angry and say things you will regret later.
  • Don’t drink too much as you might say something your regret.
  • Get enough sleep and time alone so you are rested and at your best when you are in stressful family moments.
  • When a family member starts to bring up a topic you know is uncomfortable and likely to start an argument politely say “let’s not talk about this now” and change the subject.
  • Stay away from topics such as religion and politics.
  • When family is visiting over a period of time, allow time and space from each other so you aren’t together 24/7.
  • Give family members options for activities that don’t involve you but something they would enjoy.
  • Lower your expectations.  Don’t expect a Norman Rockwell Christmas!
  • Don’t take anything too seriously and try to relax and have fun!  Avoid negative thinking.  Learn to laugh at yourself.
  • Remember no family is perfect and they all have flaws and problems.  Don’t use the holidays as a time to point out problems.
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