Emotions around the holidays are a mixed bag. For some, the holidays are a time of joy. For others, this time of year is filled with stress or reminders of trauma. Still others suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and feel depressed and exhausted. This time of year also puts stress on relationships that may already be experiencing some problems.
Those that experience difficult emotions during these winter months don’t have to feel alone. If you are suffering during this time of year, we encourage you to follow this quick “how to” for creating a network of supportive loved ones who can help you. If you are feeling joy during the holidays, be sure to be mindful of others and reach out if you have a friend or family member who needs some help getting through winter.
Setting Up an Emotional Support Network
A support network is not one size fits all. Your needs are specific; therefore you can talk to a large, loosely associated group, or just lean on a few close friends. However, there are a few things to think about as you set up this network of supportive people.
Different friends, coworkers, and relatives have different skillsets. Additionally, you may only be comfortable discussing specific aspects of your life with particular people. That’s okay! Seeking different types of support from various people means you can choose the perfect person to help with the specific stress you are encountering at the moment.
Find people you can trust
If you know you have a hard time with the holidays, winter months, or are having a rough time emotionally in general, seek out people you can trust and tell them what is going on. This can feel impossible if you are far away from friends and family, so be sure to seek out other resources as well. You can likely find a support group that fits your need, you may be able to talk with a counselor or priest within your religious organization, you may want to seek counseling from a therapist, or you might be able to make new friends at a community center or in a peer group. Just remember that there are people all over who are just waiting to meet you and to help.
Tell people what you need from them
Reaching out and letting someone know that you are having trouble can be so hard – but chances are your friend wants to help. So, if you need to cancel on a party or need some alone time during a family function, tell your friend or family member. They will likely do their darndest to accommodate you.
An additional note is: don’t feel bad if people don’t automatically account for your needs immediately. It’s likely that a host or party companion is wrapped up in his or her own world and may not be able to register cues from you. Instead of waiting for them to respond, be proactive and shoot someone a text or pull them aside for a moment. When your friend or family member discovers your need, they will most likely try to help.
Work on making meaningful connections
It can be hard to have a real conversation at a family dinner table or a raucous holiday party. However, you can always pull a dear friend or family member aside to have meaningful discussions and make a real connection. If it’s impossible to do so at your holiday function – make a date for coffee or pie and enjoy spending time with those you care about in that way.
Make plans after the holidays
The holiday season is filled with sparkling lights, excited children, time off from work, and many gatherings. But, after the new year, the lights come down and there are no more days off until May. It can feel like a real slog through the rest of winter, with only dark and cold days on the horizon.
Combat these doldrums with plans to catch up with friends in the new year. Make it a point to get lunch with one of your friends or coworkers every week. Ask your local family to set up a monthly dinner so you can all get together regularly. Invite your favorite neighbor over to tea. Join a book club or start a cooking class. Even though the weather outside is no fun – you can find ways to keep connecting and bringing joy into your life every single day.
Five Additional Tips for Coping with Depression Holistically
While reaching out to others and setting up your emotional support network is a key part of dealing with depression over the holidays, it’s not the only way to cope. Here are five additional things you can do to make the holidays – and winter in general – a little easier to deal with.
- Take a look at your diet.
Many of us eat poorly over the holidays, whether we splurge on pie or drink too many pumpkin spice lattes, we usually change our diets over the holidays. If you have a dietary routine that’s been working well for you, try to keep doing it even with all of the holiday chaos. Eating a salad every day, adding walnuts and seeds to your meals, and filling up with healthy fats can go a long way toward making you feel better – even though the weather outside is frightful.
- Keep taking your supplements.
It’s important to continue to take your supplements like Vitamin D, B vitamins, and Saint John’s Wort, even if you’re traveling. These supplements and many others can boost your brain function and help to elevate your mood.
- Don’t stop exercising.
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to miss out on those mood-boosting endorphins. Try going to a gym, enjoying a yoga class, or following along on an aerobics DVD. Keeping to your exercise routine can help you stay healthy both physically and mentally.
- Get mindful.
Research has shown that working to pay attention to the present moment can help combat depression – and can help alter thought patterns. This is a side-effect-free way to boost your mood now and in the future.
- Take a look at your body as a whole.
Many people treat the symptom of their illness and not the whole problem. By getting a holistic checkup, you may be able to discover an autoimmune disease, food allergy, or other issue that is contributing to your depression. Resolving problems associated with depression may help you combat depression and elevate your mood on a more permanent basis.
Here at Flow Natural Health Care, we work with you to find natural solutions to any ailment. Let us know if you need help. Contact us today by clicking this link.