How To Be Happy For Others When You Are Depressed Banish Seasonal Depression – Stress Busters For a Happy Holiday Season

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Banish Seasonal Depression – Stress Busters For a Happy Holiday Season

It’s that time of year when we start to hang on to work yet feel the pressure from all sides – the pressure to be happy. While trying to juggle work, home, and family, we are surrounded by expectations that others should be upbeat and happy, not to mention perhaps taking care of ourselves. Everywhere we turn we are bombarded with messages from TV commercials, radio music, store decorations, family and friends that we must be done by the end of December in a very short time. Christmas music, loaded shelves, bumping into others while walking around the store, difficult driving conditions, finding a parking spot, selling early with some kids out of school, all contribute to the good and not-so-good aspects of preparing to visit family. Frantic gift buying, decorating the home and workplace, writing and sending seasonal letters or cards, spending more and more because we are urged to enjoy Auntie B’s or Patsy’s special treats. How are we going to accomplish all this? How can we please everyone? Just thinking about it makes us tired. We are stressed, stagnant, and we have barely begun.

At the other end of the scale, the pressure to be happy can increase your feelings of loneliness. If you feel no reason to celebrate, if the last thing you want to do is indulge in fake expressions of fun, you can sink into darkness.

If you are anywhere on this scale, you have a serious case of seasonal stress. Here are ten tips to help you navigate through the stress and enjoy the holiday season:

1. Don’t set yourself up for unnecessary stress overload like building up debt, overeating, lack of sleep due to worry, stress – especially the kind that will have long-lasting consequences.

2. Analyze. Should we do it all? Should we do it all? Should we do it at all? Ask yourself why you are receiving gifts or inviting someone. What if you baked fewer cookies or bought something healthier like nuts or dried fruit instead? Are you trying to meet someone else’s expectations or setting your own expectations too high? What happens if we pay less or less?

3. Make lists so you know exactly what you’re doing, when you’re doing it. Start with tasks that can be done well before October, such as buying gifts and cards, wrapping-paper or materials and boxes for your baking needs.

4. Do your detective work quickly. Find out what some of your friends’ favorite charities and interests might be. Perhaps you can contribute in their name. You’ll help others, make your friend feel better, and get something back from your taxes.

5. Determine the maximum amount of money you will spend on gifts this year while lounging by the pool on your summer vacation. If you can, use the calculation of what you spent last year as a rough guide. Create a balance sheet and track remaining balances to help control overspending. If you have money left over at the end of this exercise, splurge – get something for yourself or give to your favorite charity.

6. Pause. Structure breaks down in your day. Take a deep breath, relax your jaw, clench your fists.

7. Do your errands earlier or later in the day to avoid crowds or when you can walk around without the kids.

8. Beware of marketing traps. Because something is on sale, should you have it?

9. Keep an eye on your credit cards, pin numbers and people around you. Keep these personal numbers away from the people in the queue behind you. Make sure you get all your cards and IDs back after you make a purchase. It is also better not to charge. When you go out, keep a fixed amount with you and pay cash instead. It’s also a good lesson for the kids who shop with you.

10. Instead of buying gifts, do something nice. Carolyn Schmatz at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, (2008) found that helping others made people feel better than the people they helped. Help out at a soup kitchen or hospital on Christmas Day so the staff can spend it at home. Start a new habit. Instead of an office party, we took our stuff to the Salvation Army at Christmas.

If all the frenzy of this season is getting you down, write down all the reasons why you feel depressed. Then add up all the reasons to be grateful. This second list will usually be longer. Do you have a roof over your head? Are you in good health? Is there a friend you could be happy to call? Do you know someone worse than you? Except in extraordinary circumstances, there are people whose causes are far greater than yours.

Do something good. Invite others who might be alone to play cards or cook—a meal together—or just pick up the phone and say hello. Go to a local humane society and help out for a day.

If someone calls you or invites you or gives you something, allow yourself to accept unconditional kindness. Most of us find this the hardest to do. Once you master it, it’s a very liberating feeling. It makes us feel grateful and happy.

Whatever you feel about the holiday season, the end of the year is meant to rest, be grateful for the good things, share, and receive kindness and love. Never forget that.

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