Ever since the day I planned to take my life over 10 years ago, and due to God’s grace didn’t, I have become painfully aware every time my mood shifts. When something is slightly off with my mood, I hone in on it, try to figure out what it is. I usually can see the signs of depression before they even really start. Thankfully I am depression free and have been for over 10 years. However, since the death of my mother in 2011, November is the start of there being my clouds in my world, both literally and figuratively, and it is during this time that I have to be vigilant about taking care of myself.
The holidays can be hard for a lot of people. With the holidays comes financial stress, too many commitments, and missing loved ones. And to add to all of that, the most dreary season of all comes upon us during this time. Some people do not just suffer from holiday depression, but seasonal depression as well.
Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect anyone, but 60-90% of sufferers are women. Many people who suffer from SAD also live in climates with overcast winter days that bring difficult weather, gray skies, and long winter nights.
I was born in the thick of the holidays. Being a December baby used to be so exciting and last year was not going to be an exeception. I had planned to celebrate my birthday for a whole weekend. I really thought it was going down! It didn’t. I ended up cancelling everything. I didn’t understand it until December 26th when a weight felt like it was lifting off of my shoulder, and the weight completely disappeared January 20th, the day after the anniversary of my mother’s death. Honestly, it caught me slightly off guard but I should have been prepared. My birthday is December 16th and my moms was December 19th. We celebrated December big! Our birthdays AND Christmas in the same month? Awesomeness! But with her being gone, my daughters birthday being 2 weeks after Christmas and the anniversary of my moms death being 3 weeks after Christmas, well, I’m feeling overwhelmed just talking about it!
But this year I am prepared, and if you suffer from Holiday and/or Seasonal Depression, I want you to be prepared too! Here are 7 tips to help you overcome Holiday and Seasonal Depression:
1) Know the signs
Signs may include headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and trouble sleeping; feeling hopeless; feeling listless and disinterested in activities; a desire to withdraw from other people and to forgo social occasions you’d normally be apart of; feeling irritable and melancholly.
2) Make a plan
Make a plan to find events and things to enjoy during the holidays and the rest of the winter. This year I created an advent calendar for Johanna, so we will be doing something special for 25 days in December. Some things that may bring you joy are hot chocolate by the fire place, curling up under a blanket watching movies with your family, building a snowman, sledding
One of the greatest things we can do to beat depression period is to take the focus off of ourselves, and put it on others. When we give to others, it fills us in a special way. It helps us to refocus and feel more thankful for what we do have, instead of focusing on what we don’t or what we wish we could change.
4) Prioritize Your Time
Don’t overbook yourself! That can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted. Pick your priorities, and stick to them!
5) Walk on Sunshine!
When the sun IS out, go enjoy it! Even if you’re at work, take that 15 minute break and go soak up some Vitamin D. The sun can be hard to catch in the winter, so when it does show up, go greet it!
6) Take Care of You
Carve out some time in your day to just focus on you. Go get a manicure or a facial, read a book for thirty minutes, go for a walk or do other exercise activities.In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Start your day off having a talk with Jesus. Name the things you are thankful for. Confess the things that are troubling you, or that you need help with overcoming. Ask for guidance, wisdom, and discernment. Most importantly, ask for the joy of the Lord. It’s sweeter than honey and nothing nor anyone can take it away from you. Seriously, if you can carve out even 15 minutes in your morning to spend with the Lord, I guarantee you that your day will start off on the right foot. But don’t forget, he’s also available all day everyday and willing to help you whenever you call.