5 Ways to Combat Holiday Depression

‚ÄčThe holidays are here, and with them comes snow, presents, Santa Claus, and increased depression for many patients. This can be because the holidays remind people of time spent with loved ones who have since passed away. Grieving for the past can cause a melancholy sadness, which is experienced as depression.
                Another reason people's mood can be affected by the change of the season is the shorter days. Dark mornings and evenings can not only affect a person's ability to feel happy, it decreases the exposure of vitamin D the "Happy Vitamin."
                The holidays can also be a difficult time for people who are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Take the sadness that comes with the holidays and add that to the stress of attending parties, buying lots of presents, and spending time with family and friends, which can be a big trigger! The holidays bring drinking and "partying" to so many people, and that can feel like the normal or accepted thing to partake in, which can be very dangerous for a recovering addict.
                Here are some great strategies to combat the "Holiday Blues,"

  1. Talk about it! Discuss the feelings and emotions with a trusted friend, a doctor, a counselor or someone who can understand and validate the feelings being expressed and will have suggestions for good self-care.
  2. Have pre-planned ways to redirect thinking to the present, things like calling a friend, arts and crafts, joining a book club or a sports team are all examples of activities that keep the mind busy.
  3. Volunteer at food banks, kitchens, animal shelters, or adopt a soldier or child in need for the holidays. Helping others is a great way to distract from personal issues and feelings.
  4. Stay active! Exercise naturally releases endorphins which is the "happy" chemical in the brain.
  5.  Cuddle with your furry friend. Snuggling up to an animal can be the most relaxing  and fulfilling experience. If you don't have pets of your own, volunteer at the local animal shelter!