Depression at Christmas

depression at christmasWrapping Christmas presents early, putting up decorations and being actively involved in Christmas has only become part of my life since I have had children. This year as I prepared for my children’s advent countdown activities, I noticed that I was becoming swept along with all the excitement and the commercialism. This made me stop and reflect upon  Christmas. Christmas is not a happy occasion for many people. Many people are depressed at Christmas. People who have been recently bereaved or tackling terminal illness or are single or in an abusive relationship or in debt. You may be surprised on how many people are suffering from depression and dreading the isolation and stress of Christmas.

Christmas without commercialism

This then lead me on to think about one of the best Christmas’ that I have had. It is when I worked and lived in Africa. I was away from family and my close friends but it was a special time. I was absent from commercialism and I was in the sunshine.  I did not receive one present yet I was surrounded by people who were grateful for their simple existence and their health. They were full of love and generous spirit.

Guide to surviving depression over Christmas

This experience has led me to provide a  guide in helping people survive the Christmas season.

  • You cannot avoid the commercialism of Christmas but you can stop yourself from being tempted. If you are in debt or have a small budget then set yourself a price limit. You don’t need to enjoy Christmas with lots of presents or Christmas decorations. If you have children, look out for the free activities. You can bundle your children in a car to look at the Christmas lights at night in their pyjamas or make simple crafts or go to a carol service.
  • As with buying you don’t need to go wild with partying. We see Christmas as a time of eating and drinking lots but is it necessary to overindulge? Limit your times to going out. Instead of meeting friends for dinner, why not meet for a walk? Fresh air and good company is just as enjoyable.
  • Commercialism and friends tend to make you believe that Christmas is a perfect time. It is not. You therefore need to lower your expectations. Live for the day. Think about the good things you have in your life.  Be like my African friends. Be grateful for what you have rather than thinking about what you don’t have.
  • If you are alone over Christmas it can be difficult and isolating. Think about booking a holiday abroad or an activity holiday. This can help you escape the reminders but also give you an opportunity to be with likeminded people.
  • For most people Christmas is a difficult time as they are isolated giving them time to reflect. However, if you find you are getting depressed every winter rather than just over Christmas you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If this is the case you may want to find out more about light box therapy which can help lift your mood during the winter months.

Inspirational quotes over advent

advent inspriration quoteTo help you live for the moment and help you stay positive, I am writing a quote every day throughout the advent period. You can find these on Facebook, twitter or pinterest.

 

 

 

Finally, if you feel that your depression at Christmas is too much to bear, then I would recommend you chat to your GP who may help you with anti-depressants. Alternatively you may wish to seek some counselling.  If you are in crisis over the Christmas period then contact The Samaritans whose telephone lines are open throughout the holiday season. Call 08457 90 90 90.

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Hazel Hill has a private supervision and counselling practice in Sheffield. As well as having a private Sheffield and online practice, her clinical experience includes working for IAPT, EAP's affiliate work, and charity. Hazel specialises in workplace counselling, bereavement, anxiety and depression and outdoors counselling. You can contact her on 07814 363855

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