Christmas Depression

Christmas time for many is a season to be jolly, but for many others Christmas time can lead to episodes of depression and anxiety.

One of the leading causes of depression at Christmas time is loneliness.

People at risk of loneliness include the elderly, those who have had recent relationship breakdowns, parents estranged from their children, those who have recently relocated to a new city, those who have lost loved one recently or whose anniversary falls around Christmas, and those who do not have family and friends around them.

Tips to manage loneliness:

  1. Make it known before Christmas Day that you do not have any plans for Christmas and make sure you accept any offers that are given to share Christmas with someone
  2. Attend your local community centre and see if there are any events scheduled for Christmas Day
  3. If you are spending some of the holiday period alone, ensure to keep yourself busy and treat yourself to something special
  4. Contact your loved ones via phone, social media, or skype regularly
  5. Volunteer your time and services at a local charity in the days leading up to Christmas, as this is traditionally a very busy time for charities
  6. Keep your activities levels up through exercise and get out of the home as regularly as you can
  7. Do something different and take up a new hobby
  8. Find positive ways to remember your loved ones – remember the good times that you had with your loved ones and do something that you used to enjoy (such as attending a restaurant that you used to go to together, and give them a toast)
  9. Get in touch with people you care about who you have lost touch with.  Step out if your comfort and pick up the phone or write a letter

Christmas is a time for families, but many families have internal conflicts and this can lead to problems at Christmas time.

Here are some tips to prevent that family conflict:

  1. Don’t bring up any past conflicting issues with family members around the Christmas lunch.  If you are having conflict with a family member who you will see at Christmas, leave the conflict behind and try and see the best in each other
  2. Avoid alcohol
  3. Get involved in activities such as backyard cricket to help break the ice
  4. Give a gift and share the workload of getting things organized
  5. If you sense conflict arising, remove yourself from the situation.

In addition to loneliness and family conflict, a range of other factors can also lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety during the Christmas holiday season.  Here are some other tips to help you prevent depression and anxiety:

  • Budget your expenses so that you don’t spend beyond your means
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat and drink in moderation and increase your activity levels
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol
  • Get enough sleep
  • Do something different this year and add variety to the holiday season
  • Take some time off to relax and allow yourself to take a break
  • Stay in the moment and find gratitude and things to appreciate out of every day
  • Don’t get caught up in the materialism of Christmas
  • Don’t concern yourself about buying the perfect gift or cooking the perfect lunch.  The most important part is being around others and enjoying each others company
  • Take some time to set yourself some new goals and resolutions to achieve in the New Year
  • Travel safely and stay safe.  Think before you act.  Don’t be in a rush to get to where you need to get to.  Be patient with others who you don’t know whose paths you cross this Christmas. 
  • Do a random act of kindness at some point in the holiday period
  • Be kind to others you don’t know
  • Get in the Christmas spirit by driving your local area to see the Christmas lights or attend your local Christmas Carols.

CONTACT GO PSYCHOLOGY on (07) 55809212 if you think you suffer from depression or anxiety, or if you know of a family member or close friend who needs help.

Visit us at Go Psychology 3/37 Commerce Drive, Robina QLD 4226.

Article by Dr Paul Bowden, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Go Psychology Robina on the Gold Coast.

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