Holiday Depression and Stress - Prevention

If you are susceptible to holiday stress or depression, how do you prevent an occurrence? Do you avoid certain activities?

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Can holiday stress and depression be prevented?

The following tips can help prevent stress and mild depression associated with the holiday season:

  • Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  • Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  • Do not put all your energy into just one day (for example, Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.
  • Live "in the moment" and enjoy the present.
  • Look to the future with optimism.
  • Don't set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the "good old days" of the past.
  • If you are lonely, try volunteering some of your time to help others.
  • Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, and watching the winter weather, whether it's a snowflake or a raindrop.
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people.
  • Reach out and make new friends.
  • Make time to contact a long lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
  • Make time for yourself!
  • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  • Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.

Holiday depression and stress, fortunately, can be managed well by following the tips listed above and by seeking out social support. Counseling and support groups can be of benefit if the symptoms are too much to bear alone.

Seasonal affective disorder generally responds well to bright light therapy (phototherapy). For some patients, medications may be used to help relieve symptoms.

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