Coping With Being Depressed During Holidays
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or is it? The holidays aren’t always cheerful. For some men it can be a time filled with stress, grief, and depression. When the holidays aren’t a positive experience for you, it can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.
For some people, the holidays create debilitating anxiety and depression. There’s even a term for it. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. If you’re feeling terrible around the winter holidays, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) nearly 5% of American adults experience seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression.
A Few Reasons Why Men Might Feel Anxious or Depressed Around the Holidays
- Facing the prospect of Interacting with toxic family members or friends.
- Financial concerns that come along with the gift-giving tradition.
- Compulsions or aversions to holiday food and weight management.
- Unrealistic or unrealized expectations about the holiday season.
- Feeling social anxiety and pressure to interact with friends, co-workers, and family.
- Balancing work and personal life responsibilities.
- Maintaining a rigorous schedule that involves increased traveling and shopping.
- Coping with the grief of lost family members and loved ones.
Related: 5 Tips for Men Coping with Grief or Loss
For men who face any of these problems, it’s hard to fight the natural urge to just shut down and avoid the holidays all together. That might be a short-term coping strategy for getting through the holidays but hiding from your problems isn’t realistic. You could possibly resolve and manage Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with a little help.
You don’t have to people-please or take on a jam-packed schedule for the holidays. You can turn the dial back down to levels you maintain throughout the year and still manage to have a decent time. When it comes to family and friends, you should review and (if necessary) revise your social boundaries.
Setting Healthy Boundaries During the Holidays
First off, saying the word “no” isn’t the end of the world. You can say “no” to social engagements without even justifying the reasons or feeling guilty. Saying “no” doesn’t mean you’re selfish. It means that you care enough to manage the demands for your time so that you don’t get burned out.
Set a schedule for the holidays that allows you to reap some form of enjoyment out of them. Some men get lost in ticking-the-boxes during the holidays and the whole thing passes by in a blur of forced interactions and duties. No wonder you hate this time of the year.
Practice telling people that you need to check back with them after you take a look at your schedule. If you hate saying “no”, then just say you’ll get back to them as soon as possible. Instead of saying “no”, just tell them that you already have plans. This works even if you plan on just doing nothing.
Related: 10 Ways Successful People Cope With Stress
Self-Care Tips for the Holidays
Don’t leave yourself off the list when it comes to gifts and special treats for the holidays. Be sure to prioritize yourself even during the season of giving. Otherwise, you could quickly get burned out and depressed. By taking good care of yourself, you can spread your wings a bit more and break out of a depressive pattern.
Here are some guilt-free tips for prioritizing self-care during the holidays.
- Eat what you want and allow yourself some leeway when it comes to holiday food.
- Slow down your work commitments to allow for more downtime.
- Avoid spending too much time looking at other peoples’ holiday social media posts.
- Don’t neglect your regular routine. Make time for activities that you enjoy year-round.
- Plan to give yourself at least one gift.
- Tell your family and friends what you need from them in order to feel okay.
Summing it Up
Seasonal Affective Disorder isn’t just a case of the winter blues. It also doesn’t mean that you’re a Scrooge or a Grinch if you don’t feel like spontaneously breaking out into song or wearing a ridiculously ugly sweater. There’s a ton of pressure surrounding the holidays. Plus, it’s cold, dark and gloomy outside. It’s completely understandable to feel uneasy at this time.
If you take any single thing from this post, let it be to adjust your connection with social media. It’s a seasonal depression minefield. Everyone is trying to put their best holiday photos online and you’re exposed to this simulated echo chamber of manufactured holiday cheer that can be overwhelming. Then, you have the never-ending holiday shopping ads. If you can just spend a little less time on social media during the holidays, you’re bound to improve your experience.
If things ever get out of hand, you can reach out to family and friends that you trust. Speak up and tell them what’s going on. You can also speak with a therapist or counselor about anxiety and depression. You can reach out to Better Help without ever leaving the house.
No matter what, don’t let the holiday blues just roll right over you. Be proactive and take good care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself isn’t something you can afford to put on the back burner until the holidays are over. Start early.
Related: How to Reprogram Your Anxious Brain!