Navigating the Holidays with Depression
Two weeks ago, we talked about navigating the holidays with anxiety. Those with anxiety may feel triggered by social gatherings, such as holiday meals. They may feel distress trying to keep up with their expectations of a picture-perfect holiday, especially when things go wrong. Toxic family dynamics may make their anxiety feel unmanageable. But what about those with depression?
If you feel particularly depressed during the holidays, you aren’t alone. In fact, 55% of people this year reported experiencing holiday loneliness or a feeling of the “holiday blues”. For some, holiday blues aren’t a once-a-winter thing – 3% of the population is impacted by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), otherwise called seasonal depression. Those with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder are especially susceptible to seasonal affective disorder, with a 20% chance and 25% chance of experiencing SAD respectively.
Communicate Your Needs with Your Social Support Team
Communicating your needs is important for anybody, but communication is especially important for those with depression. Feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and isolation can increase our depressive feelings. Combat this downward spiral of depression by forming a strong social support system and leaning on them when needed! We can’t express enough how important a strong social support team is to folx with depression – in one study, those with depression who relied on social support systems had better outcomes two years later than those who tried to go at it solo.
Meanwhile, if you’re someone listening to a loved one with depression, try out these 5 tips to increase your own communication skills with folx who are feeling depressed.
Get Outside and Moving
You may groan at the idea of getting up and getting out, especially if you’re already feeling depressed. While it may sound like the last thing you want to do, movement has huge benefits for those with depression. We aren’t talking about intense exercise, either – meditative movement, which is the practice of mindful walking or stretching, has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms. Other mind-body exercises with big benefits are Qigong, Tai Chi, and yoga – all practices that honor your limits and don’t ask you to do more than what feels right for you in the moment.
Want to try out yoga, but not sure where to start? Here are 5 yoga poses recommended for depression.
Volunteering is a popular practice in the holiday season – but volunteering has more benefits than you’d think! Long-term volunteering has been linked to a decrease in depression symptoms. Some of the reasons include:
- Volunteering increases your social support system
- Volunteering commonly involves movement
- We feel connected to something bigger than us when we volunteer (ie, we feel purposeful, meaningful, and intentional)
Helping others this holiday season may be one of the best ways to help yourself.
We hope this blog post helps you to reduce your depression around the holidays! If you need a support system during December (and the rest of the year!), we’d love to be a part of your team. At Straight Up Treatment, we specialize in helping folx overcome anxiety and depression and live according to their values. Reach out today to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors. We look forward to hearing from you!