It’s time to bring out the tinsel, trees, presents, lights, menorah, family meals, kinara, and the holiday depression. Why are you more prone to suffer depression during the holidays? Is there an easy way to cope with holiday depression and end of the year blues?
As you near the end of the year the festivities of the holiday season can cause stress and anxiety due to heightened social activities, unforeseen expenses, and family pressures.
“Holiday depression a/k/a holiday blues” is a less severe type of depression that doesn’t affect you the same way as major depression disorder does, but it can keep you from feeling the holiday spirit and functioning at your optimal best.
Holiday depression is a less severe type of depression known as dysthymia or minor depression, if you don’t treat or manage it – this seasonal occurrence can lead to serious health conditions down the road if the depression last longer than the holiday season.
Major depression can be debilitating and take a serious toll on your emotional and physical health.
A major depressive episode could put you at higher risk for developing coronary artery disease, stroke, asthma, and many other serious medical conditions.
You may feel the year-end or holiday blues because the incoming New Year is close at hand and as you begin to reflect on the plans and resolutions you didn’t accomplish, you can start to get discouraged.
How to Avoid Holiday Depression: 5 Simple Ways to Stay Happy and Centered
1) Phone A Funny Friend
Before you react to a stressful holiday situation. Try to find the humor in it, if you are still having difficulty call a friend who has an excellent sense of humor and try to find levity in your anxiety.
A good (belly) laugh releases endorphins and pheromones, which will calm you down and make you feel better immediately.
2) Visualize Your Favorite Place Through Guided Imagery
In difficult holiday and social situations you may not be able to leave immediately. But you can quickly move into a calmer state of mind by simply imagining yourself in your favorite most serene place.
Close your eyes for a minute, take a deep breath in and relax until you can feel, hear, and see your favorite surroundings.
You can also create guided imagery through audio books or music, but the most effective imagery comes from within your own subconscious.
3) Pick a Perfect Scent
Essential oils are an excellent way to use aromatherapy to influence your brain chemistry, hormone levels, and stress responses.
By rubbing a few drops of essential oils on your temples or by taking a whiff you create powerful chemical relaxation responses that counteract depression.
Studies on essential oils from plants have discovered the aromas create positive interactions with certain brain enzymatic processes.
Research from Andrew Weil M.D. showed the essential oil of ylang-ylang a tropical flower caused the pituitary gland to secret more euphoric endorphins, while grapefruit oil stimulated the brain to produce natural painkillers, and marjoram oil boosted the production of serotonin which helps to have a calming effect.
A study of lavender oil was found to have a calming almost sedative like effect and induce restful sleep.
4) Do This Breathing Exercise Right Now
Your body has a built in balancing mechanism – your breathing. It’s the easiest way to get calm rapidly.
The first step is to get your breathing under control by exhaling completely and releasing your stress through the exhale:
- Then slowly breathe in through your nose and gradually fill your lungs from bottom to top and expand your chest and let your shoulders rise.
- Briefly pause your breathing and your thoughts.
- Then relax and let the air flow out of you as if you were releasing a puff of steam through your mouth.
- Enjoy the emptiness and clarity (hold your thoughts).
- (In a couple of seconds) Begin again.
The increased oxygen to your brain will make you feel happier and you will feel a calm settling of your thoughts.
5) Go For A Walk
Take a break from the holiday noise and go for a quick short walk.
It’s the easiest and most effective way to immediately lift your mood and clear your head. Listening to relaxing music while walking can reduce the holiday blues and calm disquieting thoughts.
A brisk five minute walk will do wonders for your mood as you can change your focus from the holiday mayhem, and take quiet moments to notice the scenery, animals, or even a cheerful window display.
A Finnish study compared exercise patterns in 663 older people over eight years and found the physically active adults had overall better mental health.
By using these 5 simple holiday depression busters, you’ll be able to enjoy the season of festivities and sharing now – and in the coming New Year.