Battling Depression During the Hollidays
The start of a new year may be a time of optimism for some but not for others. Christmas festivities have passed and the gray gloomy winter days seem to match the way you feel. Maybe Christmas didn't go the way you'd hoped? Perhaps what was scheduled as a time for relaxation and fun turned into a stressful and emotionally draining experience? Now, the credit cards need paying, the year ahead looks ever predictable, and you feel drained before it even begins. You're feeling the New Year Blues.
It's also something of an illusion that everyone else is feeling happy and energized at the start of a new year while you alone feel like a knuckle-dragging depressive. Yes, you are another year older. Yes, your life hasn't radically changed for the better. Yes, you didn't get the promotion you were after, the increase in salary, the move to another house - whatever. It's easy to find yourself in a negative mind set. The fact is we could all list the stuff we didn't achieve, or didn't get, or wished we'd done. It's too easy to view these facts of life as personal shortcomings and if you already suffer with depression, the situation can appear very bleak.
If you find yourself ruminating on such issues it's worth making use of a few tried and tested techniques.
- Making resolutions may not be the best thing to do. You may already be reflecting on the things you resolved to do last year but didn't achieve. When we can't achieve a goal it follows that we sense failure.
- Resolutions (call them goals if you prefer) can be useful but only if they are achievable and realistic. List the things you want to achieve and then place the most important at the top of the list. Work towards this. Smaller goals are satisfying once they are achieved. For example, health goals such as shedding a few pounds, eating a more balanced diet or taking a little more exercise, can begin right now. This will give you an immediate focus and will ultimately make you feel better, both physically and psychologically.
- Distraction is a good thing if it gets you away from moping around and feeling bad about things. Pick up a book, organize your DVDs, go for a walk, relax in a warm bath. You'll find it's difficult to ruminate at the same time you are involved with some activity.
- Sharing your feelings with a close friend or family member can sometimes help. Often just the business of getting things off your chest is therapy enough. Some people find it helpful to keep a log or diary and they use this to commit their thoughts to paper.
- Take the pressure off yourself. The fact that another year is starting is actually of no real significance in the scheme of things. Stop expecting too much of yourself as this leads to self-criticism and a pessimistic outlook - and try to relax a little.