10 Simple Ways to Manage a Devastating Holiday Depression
Learning to manage a devastating holiday depression is easier said than done. Being forced to put on a smiling face when you don’t feel like it is something that I know all too well.
Every man has a secret sorrows which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold when he is only sad.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This time of year I really feel like I suffer from what I like to call the holiday blues. Call it what you will, depression, anxiety – I believe that it really does affect a lot of us. This time of year though, we all kind of carry it deep into our souls.
It kind of rears its ugly head, especially this time of year with everything going on and everything going on around us. I’m going to talk more about kind of what sparks it here in a little bit and also some ways that you can manage a devastating holiday depression yourself so you could have a happier holiday. And one worth remembering.
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For me, growing up I had young parents. They were 19 and 20 when I was born and they were still kind of reliant on their parents, which meant that we all were expected to be at every get together, every family holiday on both sides as well as extended family. Christmas morning we would wake up, see what Santa brought us, and then it was off to that first Christmas. We’d stay for a little while and then it was off to the next Christmas and then we’d stay for a little while and then we’d go to another Christmas for lunch and we would go through that all through the day.
It would be five, six, seven Christmases maybe that we would be expected to show up at. And by the end of half of the day, we kids were kind of feeling overwhelmed, tired, didn’t want to do it anymore. It was overbearing and very stressful on us as kids for a couple of reasons.
We didn’t have the opportunity to even play with our toys. We had to leave them at home because we would be getting new presents at the other Christmases. We would get to a Christmas and see cousins. Once we would start playing with cousins, some cousins we didn’t even know then it would be time to go. So you know, there wasn’t even the opportunity to get comfortable with who we were playing around with and get to know them.
And you know, growing as a kid, I didn’t really recall that it had that much of an effect. But talking with my mom now about it, I think it may be did have an effect on how I feel about the holidays.
Fighting for Our Own Traditions
Christmas Eve is my mom’s birthday, so we always celebrated my mom’s birthday on Christmas Eve and then we would go to church that night. Then, Christmas Eve and Christmas day were always just filled to the brim with things and seeing family and cousins and just lots of events and lots and lots of food.
Also, we always over ate and by the end of it we were just feeling really down guilty about how much we ate that day. This was later on into my teens of course.
But I definitely look back, understand fully the feeling of these Christmas blues. All I really ever wanted was a Christmas home with my family. And I know, especially as a young adult, when I would go home for Christmas and we would still be expected to be at every single family Christmas, I would get sort of angry with my mom and dad about why did we have to leave and go to these family Christmases?
Why can’t we just stay home and have our own traditions? I had kids by then, my girls were babies at the time. We would drive 3 hours to my parent’s house. Then, we would have to pack them up again and go to another grandma’s house. It was the same cycle as when I was growing up.
But, I am stronger than my parents were the time. Again, they were young and I was a little older when I had kids. I was starting to put my foot down because it’s tough packing up small children over multiple times in a day before they can even get used to and comfortable in their surroundings to move on and on.
And from there. From there I sort of put my foot down and said, “No, I would rather just stay here at your house and start our own traditions with grandma and the kids and if those other family members want to see us they can come over here.” I fought hard for that.
So, This Year My Little Family and I are Staying Home
Yes, we are staying here at our house for Christmas. It’s just something that happened. We aren’t mad at anybody or anything.
We have baby goats due on Christmas day because that’s when the AI tech could get us in for the AI for December babies. That is sort of our excuse for not going anywhere.
We are staying home watching the goats and having our own Christmas here with Matt and I and our two girls and it’s going to be fantastic. We have our menu planned, you know it’s going to be roast beef for Christmas Eve and lasagna for Christmas day. I know it doesn’t that sound delicious. It’s going to be all made ahead of time and we’re going to just stick it in the crock pot or oven.
Of course, we’re going to go to church on Christmas Eve, come home. We’re going to stay home Christmas morning, eat donuts and chocolate milk, open presents, play with our presents, play with the girls, you know, check the goats every once in awhile. It’s going to be glorious. I am excited.
This is all I ever wanted was just a morning at home in one place on Christmas. That’s all. That’s the only gift that I could ever ask for right now. And this is the year that I feel is going to be totally free of those Christmas blues and Christmas stress. It’s going to be completely stress-free.
So Friend, I hope that my story inspires you. Don’t worry, I’m not done. I have more. But I just want you to hear my story and know that you just have to find what works for you.
So, with that said, I’m going to dive into this episode to four or five things that kind of caused that anxiety and depression. You know, those feelings we can get caught up in that can spiral those into effect and eventually cause the Christmas blues that make us so sad this time of year. I’m also gonna talk about 10 ways that you can manage those holiday blues. These are 10 ways that I have found, you know, for many, many years of experiencing holiday blues that can, that you can try and that has helped me over the years. So let’s dive in to the four or five feelings or thoughts that might spiral you into those Christmas blues.
How do Holiday Blues Start?
1. First of all is the number one feeling is the feeling of fear. And it can be on both sides:
– Fear of not doing enough,
– Not giving enough,
– The fear of giving too much,
– Being too many places,
– The fear of failure,
– The fear that they aren’t going to like the gift or they aren’t going to like the food.
Fear is a perfectly normal and probably the biggest feeling that people have this time of year and it can be devastating. That feeling of fear can cause other feelings to spiral as well.
2. The next feeling is the feeling of loneliness or overwhelm that everyone is there but yet you feel like you’re the only one in the room. Being in a big family where you can kind of disappear can make you feel that way and whether you want to disappear or you wish that you had somebody close to you to talk to. Growing up, I didn’t feel like I really knew any of my cousins because we really didn’t spend that much time with them. We saw them, that’s about it. So, I would just feel so lonely because I didn’t know anybody. So that’s a pretty common feeling.
I hope that you don’t have that feeling because it’s awful. You just kinda want to go hide somewhere and not feel so invisible or the center of attention, whichever it may be that’s causing this.
Also the loss of a loved one in your family. For example, it’s very hard for me to go to my grandma’s house because my grandpa passed away 16 years ago and it’s still very hard for me to go there without him there. And that’s a feeling I’ve had for 16 years. And that last Christmas with him, we did spend all day with him there at home in complete and total pain from cancer and two weeks later he was gone.
So going there is hard. I feel lonely for him and it’s just tough. Those of you who are still mourning the loss of a loved one, take it from me – It’s still hard.
3. The next feeling is numbness. Feeling like there’s no hope and that can kind of STEM from from being totally and utterly stressed and exhausted that you just want to shut down and not even try.
4. Alongside that is stress. Whether it be financial, emotional or physical. You feel that stress and it’s tough. It makes it hard for you to want to do things or it throws you into a very emotional state of worry and overwhelm. You don’t want to feel like that this time of year.
I mean this is the time of year for celebration and cheer and joy and you’re feeling so down in the dumps and I know it’s tough. It’s so hard.
5. The last one is caring. You don’t feel like you care and you’re feeling so low on life that you don’t even want to try anymore. You don’t want to give anyone anything for Christmas and it’s stressing you out to the max.
Or maybe you just don’t care enough that it doesn’t even stress you out. You have no feeling, you feel numb. And that’s kind of where that can be intertwined too. But whether we want to or not, there’s people around us that are there for us and are wanting us to be in the Christmas spirit with them. And for me it’s my kids.
My Little Girls are my Saving Grace
So an example, I did not want to put up Christmas decorations this year because I was already in that state of feeling the Christmas blues, you know, Christmas parties, advent services, um, you know, along with everything else was starting to take a toll on me and I hadn’t even decorated yet. I hadn’t even put up my tree yet. And it was the middle of December and my little girls begged and begged and begged me to put up the Christmas tree.
And actually what we did was we went and bought a new artificial Christmas tree that was bigger and brighter and more beautiful than our old one. And for the record, we’ve had our old one for probably 10 years. So my husband said, “Let’s just go get a new tree.” So that’s what we did. We went and got a new one and bright and shiny as well as a new tree skirt to go underneath. And we put up all of our, we put up the tree lights, ornaments, and it looks beautiful.
Am I in the Christmas spirit yet? Four days before Christmas? Um, I don’t know. I’m still in the not so caring mood when it comes to gift giving. Of course we have gifts for the girls, but I don’t have anything for my husband. We really don’t exchange gifts anyways and I really don’t have any gifts for anyone else.
For my girls’ teachers, I made Swedish Tea Rings. And I put a candle in the middle of each one. I ultimately felt bad when the teachers were opening other kids’ gifts and my girls didn’t have a gift for the teacher to open. They just had the Tea Rings wrapped up to take home. And I guess that was a lesson right there for my kids. A gift is something that comes from the heart.
It doesn’t have to necessarily be in a package. Our gift was handmade and hand wrapped and they didn’t have to open it. They knew it was food, something to eat, and they didn’t feel like they needed to open it.
Some Things We Can’t Control
In growing my faith the past couple of years, I’ve been less and less worrisome on those little things that don’t really matter that much. I fully understand now that whatever happens is meant to be and is what God intended for us. And so with that said, I’ve gone over those feelings, those symptoms that can kind of spiral us into the blues. So how can we manage those?
You know, they’re going to come at us no matter what. We’re going to have people that tell us something that triggers fear or loneliness or something. How do we manage that? We can’t control what other people say about us or about some anything. We can’t control what people do. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control animals. What can we control?
We can control what we do and how we manage these feelings. We can control how we react. That is all that we can control. We can control what we do. We cannot control other people and I’ve been trying and trying and trying to get that through my daughter’s heads. That is like the biggest lesson I’ve been teaching them right now is that we only control how we react. We don’t control other people.
So with that said, I’m going to give you 10 ways to manage those five intertwined feelings that cause your holiday blues. Are you ready?
10 Ways to Manage a Devastating Holiday Depression
1. Set some realistic expectations and goals for you and your family. These goals can be financial, it can be gifts, it can be how you’re going to spend your holiday, those types of things.
You need to decide with your family, with the closest people to you, how you’re going to spend your holiday ahead of time. Having a plan and even having a plan B if you need to, which you might, can really help you to not be so overwhelmed when it doesn’t work well or when something goes wrong.
Of course plans do fail. I understand that fully, but if you have some white space in your plan, you can adjust accordingly.
2. Plan out your time and give yourself some white space. It’s a one page time block sheet, where you can actually plan out your day, hour by hour, giving yourself white space, giving yourself time to do something for yourself to sit in silence or pray or do whatever you need to do to get back to you.
Just give yourself that time. You can plan it out and take it. Do not break it, take it and use it because it was going to help you so much along with that.
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3. Along with those expectations and goals, they really need to be realistic. I can’t express that enough. If it doesn’t work to go to Grandma’s house in Florida, then call Grandma up and say: “I can’t be there. Sorry. It’s just not going to work out this year.” You gotta be realistic with yourself. If you don’t have the money for certain gifts, then you just can’t.
Another Example – My oldest daughter was asking for a Disney vacation this year for Christmas and she actually put that in her Santa letter. So I had to break it to her that I didn’t think Santa gave trips away. I think that was more the parents doing that. That’s really not something Santa did and that she was okay with that. But honestly, a Disney vacation is not realistic at all this year or any year for us. To be honest, we’re more worried about what I envision for a holiday and a happy Christmas is to be present with each other.
4. Be present. Get off your phone, get off your technology, play a game, sing songs, look at each other in the eye and be there. Give lots of hugs and kisses and conversation with each other.
That’s what being present means. Put the phones in the cabinet, take your family picture and put them away. You don’t need them. You need to be with each other.
Along with that, celebrate new traditions. The best traditions stem from mistakes.
So this year we’re spending Christmas at home. You know, that could be a truly a new tradition for us is that we don’t go anywhere on Christmas. We celebrate Christmases on other days of the holiday with family, which is what we’re doing this year. So for example, today, the Saturday before Christmas, we are heading out to spend Christmas with my family and that is going to be very fun. Everybody’s okay with that.
And that is something that I think is important is to just spend the holiday not so much celebrating the old but celebrating new traditions as well. I wonder what traditions my little girls will want to start this year on Christmas.
5. Volunteer. If you’re feeling lonely, if you’re all by yourself and you don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with, maybe it would be nice to volunteer or give your time and your talents to someone else.
You know, there’s lots of places that could use your expertise on Christmas. There’s soup, kitchen kitchens, there’s, there’s humane societies, there’s vet hospitals where a boarded animals need, need cared for and locked and, and all of that. And, and my advice is to just look for a place like that in your community where, where someone needs you, you know, it’s good to feel needed and it’s good to be appreciated. And that is the best way to feel that, especially when you’re all by yourself.
6. The next way is to spend your time with positive, caring people. So if you’re going to a big family Christmas, there might be someone there who you don’t really see eye to eye with. I know that I’ll all full well on both sides of my family. So my advice to you is to find someone to who is positive and caring and actually cares about you being there and kind of latch onto them and be civil to the people you don’t see eye to eye with, but you really don’t have to talk to them.
Remember, it’s about how you react to people. It’s about how you react to what others say about you or to you. You’re going to feel like the bigger person when doing that.
7. Another old tradition that I love is playing games and doing things that ultimately make you laugh. I love laughing and I believe laughter is a great natural medicine to blues, the depression and and anxiety.
My extended family, my brother, his sister and their spouses love playing adult games. When the kids go to bed such as Cards Against Humanity or you know, some kind of drinking game like that just because of the fact that it makes me laugh so hard. It’s just so funny to see people out of their comfort zone or maybe even that they can just be themselves and it’s just a blessing to be able to laugh with the people who you love.
Some games that I love playing with the kids is:
– Mario Cart
8. The next is the next way to manage your blues is to keep your money in check. If you’re worried about money in any way, making a budget ahead of time is just a good way to to take care of that. And once you know where your money’s going, you really don’t have to worry about it and you don’t have to spend more than you think you have.
9. Nutrition, health and sleep is so incredibly important. If you’re on a holiday then you have the opportunity to get a little extra rest, a little extra sleep, take it in any way possible. You can put it into your time block and actually use it and tell your family: “Look, I have to take an nap at this time” and they’ll let you because you told them or they should let you anyway. But if you’re lacking in that aspect, get some more sleep and rest along with the nutrition part.
Eat healthy and eat and moderation. Don’t overindulge. Use your leftover boxes. Save it for later it you’ll be glad that you did. And then another thing we love doing as a family during the holidays is exercising. We go to the gym or we go outside.
Walking chores is also good exercise. We have chores everyday with the livestock and that helps keep us going as well.
10. Finally, it’s all about prioritizing your needs. Okay? It’s up to you on how you spend your time and how you react to others. You know, feeling guilty and feeling blue this time of year, it’s not what this time of year is about.
And so when you prioritize your time, your money, your resources, you know, spending time with those loved ones, doing things that you love doing, you will be a much happier person because you’re taking care of you.
And that’s ultimately what it’s all about, taking care of you first. You can’t take care of others before. Take taking care of yourself. It just doesn’t work that way. You have to be a healthy person before you can take care of others, at least in a sustainable fashion.
Have a Wonderful and Happy Holiday Season!
So there you have it. I given you what to watch out for, what can stem up from holiday blues that you might feel, and also 10 simple ways to manage a devastating holiday depression when everything gets thrown at you.
Prioritizing your money, time and resources and doing what you love to do and what you want to do is important. And this time of giving, do the things and give because you want to. Have a safe word. Cut back on your social media. Be more present, prioritize and take your holiday time back.
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You can also leave us a five star review. We will absolutely love that. I hope that you take some time for yourself this holiday and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! And happy holidays if you celebrate another holiday besides Christmas, I want to thank you for listening.