This holiday season, combat depression and improve your mood. This is something many of us want to do.
I’m not clinically depressed. But there are days when I wake up feeling like Chicken Little. On those days I’m certain that the sky is falling. This year, I realized that the clouds of melancholy start building around the end of summer. Just when the first signs of fall arrive, I start feeling sad. It begins with a shift in the sound of the wind when the leaves are getting brittle, before they display their spectacular arrays of color. Don’t get me wrong, I love fall—especially taking long walks when it’s cool enough to wear a sweater.
I’m not a fan of winter. I don’t think it has anything to do with the temperature. In fact, I enjoy drinking coffee while sitting in front of the fireplace and bundling up to shovel snow—on the few occasions when it falls. When my kids were younger, I loved to drive the forty minutes up the road to the closest ski resort for a day on the mountain. I think the real issue for me is that fall signifies the beginning of the holiday season. And the holidays make me feel sad. I know I’m not alone.
It wasn’t always this way, and perhaps I’ll eventually figure out the source of my discontent. In the meantime, the bigger and more important question is: what am I going to do about it?
After a bit of contemplation, I came up with three actions that will help with depression.
- Scale back. No one but me sets the bar, so instead of hosting dinners, putting up decorations, sending cards, and making calls, I’ve decided to pick one thing for each holiday and do only that. For example, my contribution to this past Halloween was making chili and cornbread for eight. It didn’t take all day, it made the house smell great, and it was appreciated by the family and friends who came by.
- Lower my expectations. As much as I enjoy having all members of my family around for the holidays, I know that’s not always possible. I invite people I hope will come and accept the outcome. I’ve also made it clear that I don’t want gifts for any occasion—although funny cards are always appreciated.
- Limit spending. Instead of giving a bunch of gifts during the holiday (small children are the exception), I give throughout the year on an as-needed basis. If my 27-year-old son needs help paying for an unexpected car repair, I give then. Or I might take my 30-year old daughter on a shopping spree in June when we both have time.
If the holiday season tends to get you down, take a few moments to figure out what might improve your situation and your mood. Of course, if you suffer from serious depression, seeing a therapist is always an excellent option.