Joy to the World: Dealing With Seasonal Depression During the Holidays

For some people, this time of year is far from festive. The change in seasons can bring on symptoms of depression, and a lack of energy and enthusiasm. This can be caused by many things: shorter hours of sunlight, expectations from family, financial pressures and even having too many commitments, which feels overwhelming. These feelings have a name, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it’s more common in states like Michigan that turn cold and dark in the winter. If you have any of these feelings, read on for ways to find more joy in the season:

  • Keep your schedule in check. Overbooking may cause stress, so consider which parties and events you can realistically fit into your schedule in a joyful way. Don’t say yes to every single invitation out of obligation. Instead, select parties and events that you will enjoy.
  • Seek out companionship. Feeling lonely or isolated is common this time of year. Try to set up time to be with your friends or participate in community events. You can also try volunteering your time, which can help lift your spirits and bring new friendships. Find a way to connect and create new memories.
  • Do something new. Don’t let habit or routine keep you from trying out something different. If you feel like you’re in a rut, suggest spending Christmas day sledding with your family or skip on gifts and donate to a cause you believe in to boost your joy. Make sure the holidays bring happiness to your days instead of stress and obligation.
  • Ask for assistance. You don’t have to suffer silently. See a therapist to talk through your issues (if you see one already, try booking extra sessions). Lean on your friends and family and let them know you’re in need of their help.
  • Keep your healthy habits. Letting the holidays become a free-for-all filled with cookies and alcohol won’t make you feel any better. Try having healthy snacks before going to a party and squeeze in a short workout whenever possible to boost your mood.
  • Try light therapy. A common treatment of seasonal affective disorder, light therapy helps correct for the shorter, darker days by mimicking outdoor light. Light therapy is a proven technique to that causes a chemical change in your brain and lifts your mood.

For more ways to maintain a healthy mindset, check out our Mental Health section and these other blogs:

Photo credit: Bert Kimura

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