Holiday depression is a perfect time for you to set your intention to heal. While you may easily indulge in your shortcomings, failures, and obstacles—the holiday rituals are a reminder to reflect on specific thoughts and behaviours to let go, hold on, or keep pursuing.
If you feel overwhelmed, consider it as the occasion when all your thoughts and feelings get a chance to surface, even the ones that generally won’t come to your awareness in your daily routine. Now, the question is—“What should I do about it?”
Keep an Account of Your Strengths
Keeping an account of strengths has a lot to do with making big decisions, coping with a life event, or taking the next steps in your life. While we often indulge in questions like, “Should I or shouldn’t I do it?” “What if” “How am I going to” It is often less about finding an answer. Rather, it is about developing your resilience before making that jump or choosing to do something in your life. Secondly, you may also create a mental timeline of your life events and pick up the things that you are more proud of.
Thirdly, perhaps these tactics are less helpful to you. In that case, list out the values that are most important to you. Be it family, career, friendships, or anything that you believe is essential to you, even if others disagree. Now list down the specific time when you abided by your values. Doing so, will not support you in validating yourself, but also develop resilience, and attain a clearer mind.
Balance Overextending Yourself to People You Love, Especially During Holidays
Holiday depression may be a remind that you overextend yourself and continue filling someone’s cup even when you’re empty inside. While it’s hard to stop doing things for someone—one strategy to beat this pattern is by categorising. Allow yourself to categorize things to offer to this person and keep others in the second column “Can’t do this unless/until I….” This could mean, “Until/unless I’m in the position to do so.”
Understand that it is less about the person. But in this context, the highlighted aspect is “You.” Make that list based on identifying how you feel when you are there for someone. Generally, overextending yourself to others could involve feelings of anger, sadness, and uselessness. By tracking your feelings, you could engage in the categorization activity much more rationally than simply telling yourself to stop.
Another tactic is to ask yourself, “What are some of the things that I won’t be discussing with this person during my holiday depression?” “When am I entitled to say NO to this person.” These questions tap into—“What should you say/don’t say anymore” and “What would you do/not do”—around someone. If you are unable to identify when to withdraw or indulge, then these questions are personal boundaries or mini-encouragers to take the necessary steps forward.
Challenge the Meaning behind your Holiday Depression
You would be lying if you say—“I enjoy being alone.” In fact, we are wired for connections. We need someone to support us emotionally or simply spend the time of days with. However, when you really don’t have someone present next to you, you equate being alone as scary. It’s a natural tendency that drives you back to seeking human connection, for attaining safety and security.
Notice that there is always a fear element of being alone, especially during holiday depression. That’s why you fight it, or are protective of it. An easiest way to catch the fear element is by observing the body. Maybe your stomach is having a tingling sensation, maybe your eyes are teary, or you simply feel like laying down in your bed. This exercise tells you that the body is much easier than catching a thought in your head.
The feeling “being alone” requires you to pay attention towards it, just as much any other feeling like anger or sadness would do. Thus the actual question is—“How do you process it?” Consider that you’re using the alone time for your healing and nourishment. Rather than processing it as an isolation, unworthiness, or fear-inducing moment.
Note that, the meaning that you attach to the feeling is more important than taking action to heal yourself. Thus, do not beat yourself up if you’re unable to take steps for healing. You may still be in your bed, and yet choose to attach a different meaning to the feeling. That makes all the difference.
Sally George is a Psychologist & the Editor of Gentle Meanings. She shares thought-provoking tools, asks insightful questions, and encourages her readers to be gentle with themselves.