[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This time of year can be very trying for people with the winter blues. Memories of years gone by, financial worries, and feelings of loneliness, even when surrounded by dozens of people, can plague people with SAD and winter depression. Even though Christmas and the New Year are the “most wonderful times of the year”, why does it seem to only make things worse?

For our entire life, holiday songs and movies have touted how magical and happy this time of the year is, but for people with SAD, it seems to be the peak of depression. While others are happily shopping and spending time with their families, some of us may be trying to find where the wrong turn was taken. Several holiday traditions can make us feel worse:

  • The hustle and bustle of huge crowds
  • The need to live up to social expectations
  • The reality of loneliness and lack of close relations
  • Remembering “better” times as a child and thinking of those who are no longer with us

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to blow off the holiday blues.

1. Spend time with supportive and caring people

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The best way to fight holiday-associated depression is by talking with friends and family and rekindling positive connections. SAD can make us want to avoid other people and social gatherings, but this isolation can further contribute to the depression.

Reaching out may not come naturally for people with SAD and depression, but if you peel back the materialistic connotations of Christmas, the true beauty lies in humanity’s harmony and coming together in the name of love and friendship.

2. Help someone else

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Every year, you’ll hear people say “It doesn’t feel like Christmas”, mostly because we have an idea of what a classic Christmas is which clashes with modern reality. Finding the childhood pleasure of Christmas can be hard, but seeing the joy on someone else’s face may help. Try one of these activities:

  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or Toys For Tots fundraiser
  • Participate in an Adopt a Family program
  • Deliver food or toys to a family in need
  • Volunteer at a nursing home

With SAD, giving is better than receiving. Helping a struggling family who just want to give a “normal” Christmas to their kids may be the boost you need to start feeling better.

3. Don’t overspend

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Christmas often means scrapping together money you don’t have and spending it on gifts that you’ll probably never see again. If money is a problem, don’t feel the overwhelming need spend money you don’t have on lavish gifts. Most people understand that money isn’t always abundant, and that gifts are just materialistic wants – your presence is better than any store bought gift!

If you really want to give a gift, write loved ones heartfelt notes, make a homemade gift, or bake something from scratch. A touching letter written to someone you love will be more valuable to them than a new pots and pans set.

4. Look to the future with optimism

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The last day of the year is usually a time of deep reflection, attempting to remember everything we did and didn’t do that year. For a lot of people, they didn’t accomplish everything they wanted, or they believe that the entire year was bad and they look forward to fixing their mistakes next year.

This cycle of ruminating and wishing away last year can be extremely depressing. Instead of dwelling on the past, make a plan to fix mistakes and to complete goals. Mentally tell yourself that the past is the past – only the future can be changed by taking control and making the changes you want to see.

5. Limit your consumption of alcohol

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Alcohol is a known depressant. For some reason, New Year’s Eve signifies excessive drinking, possibly in an attempt to “wash away” the old year. While one or two drinks may be okay and might even help you open up and socialize, people with depression and SAD know that a full-fledged binge can make you feel worse than ever.

People use alcohol in an attempt to fix their depression or stop “thinking”, but alcohol is chemically making things worse:

  • Over time, alcohol depletes serotonin
    • Low serotonin is thought to contribute to depression and SAD
  • Alcohol also strips our body of vitamins and minerals
    • Waking up sore, tired, and sick won’t make you feel better!

6. Surround yourself with happy people

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Spending New Year’s alone can be depressing, too. Seek to surround yourself with friends and family who are positive. The people we surround ourselves with can greatly impact our mood. For those with SAD and depression, being around depressing people can exacerbate the problem.

Instead of drinking, consider staying home with someone you know isn’t big on alcohol, or keep your consumption in check by just getting together with a 2 or 3 family members or friends who won’t let things get out of control.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_cta_button call_text=”Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our newsletter and make sure you don’t miss our latest posts! ” title=”Subscribe to newsletter” target=”_self” color=”btn-primary” icon=”wpb_mail” size=”btn-large” position=”cta_align_bottom” css_animation=”right-to-left” href=”http://www.beatthewinterblues.info/newsletter-signup/”][/vc_column][/vc_row]