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8 Tips for Holiday Depression

Posted on Dec. 28, 2011 ( comments)
Many people feel stressed or depressed during this season. You may be alone and lonely, you may have lost a loved one, or you may feel overwhelmed by stress and obligations during the holidays. The range of holiday emotions varies, but there are resources available to help you.

To alleviate stress, try these ideas:

  1. Just say no. If you’ve made a commitment, keep it. But remember next year - and now - to say no to further commitments. Be pleasant, but firm and just say no.
  2. Prioritize relaxation. Make time for it at the end of each day.
  3. After the holidays this year, plan ahead for next year. Intentionally choose what you will and will not do. Be prepared to say no next year.
  4. Use checklists and mark off completed items. Review the list to mark off items that are unnecessary. Re-prioritize as you review the list. Commit to doing one or two things per day (or week). Go for “relaxed and enjoyable” rather than “perfect.” Your family and guests will appreciate this.

If you feel depressed or alone during the holidays:

  1. Focus on other people. What can you do to cheer up those around you? It’s often when we focus on our own loss and needs that we become depressed.
  2. Focus on enjoying what you have, rather than on what you don’t have. Be grateful.
  3. Use your brain to prevent yourself from talking yourself into feeling even worse. Think about what you’re thinking and stop negative thinking.
  4. Listen to positive music. Some songs are depressing. Turn them off.
  5. Go outside every day. Even though it’s cold, go out for some fresh air (unless your physician or a medical condition prevents you from doing so). Research shows that even 20 minutes of sun (even cloudy light) on your face and forearms can reduce depressive symptoms.
  6. If you feel cabin fever, focus on the things you enjoy indoors. For example, you may have more time to catch up on reading, doing crafts, or talking on the phone with others during the winter.
  7. Seasonal Affective Disorder (fall and winter depression) is a reality that affects many people in northern climates. Although tanning is not safe for your skin, research indicates that very brief tanning sessions may help alleviate winter depression symptoms. So do sun lamps, sunshine, and, to some extent, Vitamin D3.
  8. One of the things that alleviate depression best is movement. This includes walking around one block, dancing in PJs in your home, cleaning house, walking around a store. Don’t sit and brood – Move! It won’t cure depression but it will help!

If you are having trouble coping with depression, or are thinking of suicide, please call the crisis line or go to a hospital emergency department. The following hotline has licensed mental health professionals answering 24/7: 1-800-576-7764 or go to

Shelly Watkins-Calvin, M.Ed., LMHC is a licensed mental health professional who works as a Social Worker at Allenmore Hospital. She can be reached at 253-459-6760 or at [email protected]

Posted in: General Vitals

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Shelly Watkins-Calvin
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