The holidays are a fun and jolly time full of music, gifts, and togetherness– for some people. For others, they can be one of the most difficult times of the year. It’s bad enough feeling lonely when there aren’t major celebrations happening all around you, but dealing with those feelings of isolation during a time when everyone is gathering with their families and friends can be especially difficult.
People with depression can find the holidays particularly debilitating. Feelings of loneliness are a common symptom of this mental illness. Depression makes you feel alone, and that’s part of what makes it so hard to fight, especially right now! However, you don’t have to resign yourself to being miserable until January rolls around. There are ways for you to fight back against depression! Here are just a few of them.
Focus on Your Own Well-being
If you’ve spent any time in mental health circles, you’ve heard this piece of advice before. Sleep well, exercise enough, eat right, and it’ll help you feel better. You’re probably sick of hearing this, in fact! After all, what is a healthy meal and a good night’s sleep going to do to combat a serious mental illness like depression?
In many ways, engaging in this kind of basic self care when you’re struggling with depression or other mental health issues isn’t necessarily about fixing the issue– it’s about setting yourself up for success as you try to fix the issue with additional techniques. Think of your physical health and well-being as the foundation of the house that you’re trying to build with your recovery. If the foundation isn’t in good shape, you’ll still be working uphill, no matter how much effort you put into meditation, mindfulness, or therapy. Earnestly trying to get your diet, exercise, and sleep in order allows you to get the full advantage of any additional things that you try to relieve your depression. You might be surprised at how much better you feel!
Combat Skewed Thoughts
This piece of advice is one to take with a grain of salt based on your own personal experience. Something that’s common with depression is patterns of skewed thought, or catastrophizing. Simply put, a mental illness like depression can often make things in your life seem worse than they are. For example, a depressed person might remember that it rained almost every day during a month where they were struggling, when in reality it rained no more than usual.
Depression is a good liar! The things it tells you can feel or sound very real. But try to catch yourself when you’re mentally catastrophizing your situation. Is this really the worst holiday season you’ve ever had, or are you having some struggles this year that are making it hard to appreciate the positives? Are you really completely alone this December, or are you finding it difficult to connect with the friends and family who love you? Sometimes, you feel lonely because you are lonely, and there are steps you can take to combat that, but sometimes, you feel lonely because your depression is telling you to, and there is loving help within arms reach if you need it! Try to focus on the thoughts you have when you’re not feeling your best, and think over them again during moments where you’re in a clearer and more positive headspace. It can help you to work against skewed thinking!
Seek Out Virtual Closeness
Being physically separated from your family and friends during the holidays is a very difficult obstacle to overcome. People have been dealing with it for years, but it never gets any less sad to spend a special holiday all by yourself, separated from the people you love. However, we live in an age where technology makes it easier than ever to feel close to people who are a long way away!
Holiday video calls are a great tool to use at this time of the year. Coordinate with a family member or friend who is willing to ring you into a holiday gathering, and spend some time talking to the people you miss! You can send presents in the mail and watch your loved ones open them virtually, or send them a toast from miles away with a drink of your own in hand. Even if you can’t be with them in person, you can still be with them virtually.
Make New Friends
No matter how isolated you may feel at this time of year or any other, remember this: you are not alone. You’re not even alone in being lonely! Holiday loneliness is something incredibly widespread; almost everyone experiences it at some point in their life. In your town right now, there are probably plenty of other people who are feeling the exact same things that you’re feeling, and they may be looking for a little company, too. This makes a lonely holiday season a great time to make new friends!
Look into some seasonal activities in your area, like crafting nights or fun classes. Consider volunteering– this is a great time of year to give back, and volunteering gets you out of the house and meeting people! You might just find that you meet some of your new best friends as you try to help yourself feel less lonely at this time of year.
Look Into Treatment
At the end of the day, depression is a serious mental illness that can be hard to fight on your own. Seeking out treatment like therapy and medication can make a huge difference in how you feel, during the holiday season and beyond! If you’ve struggled to find relief from traditional therapy methods, transcranial magnetic stimulation might be right for you. You can contact us here to learn more about this method!