Aren’t the holidays supposed to be the happiest time of the year? You would think so. However, for some people, the holidays may trigger many negative emotions. Whether you are still grieving lost loved ones or you are triggered by negative memories from the past, there are some things you can do to help. See below for some ideas.
• Don’t try to think positive thoughts. While thinking positive thoughts can be a good thing, it can also make the negative thoughts worse if you try to force it. Instead, try to focus on neutral, accurate thoughts to neutralize the negativity running through your mind. Thoughts about yourself may be helpful, such as “I have gotten through holidays before, and this will be over in a couple of days.”
• Meditate/Reflect/Take deep breaths. Allow yourself a few minutes each day to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. This practice can help you recenter and ground yourself before moving through the rest of your day.
• Give back to others. Engaging in acts of kindness has been shown to help improve your mood. There are multiple organizations looking for volunteers during this time of year. Practice doing something for someone else.
• Give yourself some credit. One of the symptoms of depression is having negative thoughts about yourself. Do not forget to notice what you are doing well, and write it down in your journal if you need to. Remind yourself that battling the holidays with depression takes a lot of strength and courage.
• Go outside. It’s easy to find yourself stuck inside for hours, especially if you live in an area with cold winter weather. Try to find moments to take a walk or get out in the sun if you can.
• Choose alcohol mindfully. With all of the holiday parties you may be invited to, just remember to limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a natural depressant and will exacerbate your emotions even more
• Maintain a routine. One of the best ways to manage stress and mood is to maintain a routine. Having predictability in your day leaves little time for worry and overthinking.
• Exercise. Physical activity has been proven by research to help burn off stress and improve your mood. During the season where one may consume more calories than normal, it can also help burn off those extra calories to help you avoid feeling sluggish and fatigued.
• Learn to say “No” Don’t try to do everything! If you’re invited to a million holiday parties or are asked to prepare several dishes or meals, it’s ok to set boundaries and give yourself a limit. Say “yes” to what you can do and “no” to what you cannot. It is okay to decline an invitation if needed. This will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.
• Take a break from social media. With the daily images of social media, it is so easy to compare ourselves and our lives to others. It is even easier to do this when depressed. Avoid social media for a few weeks if you find yourself triggered by seeing certain posts of certain people. Delete your apps if you have to.