For some people, the holidays are filled with joy, laughter and family bonding. For others, this time of year is nothing but stress, sadness and constant frustration. Why do depression symptoms intensify during the holidays, and what can you do to dull their effects? Here are some tips for dealing with depression around the holidays, courtesy of our depression counseling centers in Michigan.

Don’t Expect Perfection

Most people have a picture in their head of how they want the holidays to go: family members laughing around the fireplace with full bellies of perfectly cooked food. These idealistic expectations never match real life. Something will go wrong. People will argue, food will get burnt, and children will hate one of their gifts. There is nothing you can do to control that.

Rather than setting yourself up for disappointment, try to eliminate all expectations from your mind. Approach the holidays ready to take on whatever life throws your way. The memories that come to life may be far better than the picture you painted in your head.

Focus On The Positives

During this time of year, people often assess their flaws. You may not have enough money to get your children all the gifts they wanted, or maybe you don’t have friends and family nearby to visit. If you only focus on the negative, you will fall deep into depression. Turn your attention to positive areas of your life, like the fact that you have healthy children who care for you deeply. By reversing negative thought patterns, you can overcome depression symptoms time and time again.

Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin

It hard to relax and enjoy the holiday season when your schedule is overflowing. You need to know what you can truly handle and only commit to events within your abilities. If you have several family functions to attend, ask the family if they could schedule it a day or two in advance. This is particularly beneficial for married couples who find themselves pulled in several directions. You could celebrate with one side of the family on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day, then switch the order the following year. The better you manage your time, the more enjoyment you will get out of the holidays.

Ignore Online Personas (The “Grass Is Greener” Mentality)

With the prevalence of social media, it is easy for people to create an alternate version of their lives. This is what they share with the world – a filtered, Photoshopped, skewed depiction of a much grimmer reality. Don’t get caught up in the seemingly happy pictures and lavish family outings. That’s what people want you to see, not what they actually experience.

Handle Grief In A Healthy Way

The holidays may trigger feelings of grief and mourning. A loved one that you used to see around this time of year is no longer available. It is healthy to reflect on good memories around the holidays, but don’t let that reflection take away from making new memories. Use this as a time to pay tribute your loved one’s life and share some of his or her wisdom with the world.

As part of the healing process, you could spend a day visiting the person’s favorite places or donate to a charity in his or her honor. Volunteer your time with an organization your loved one felt strongly about, or just take a day to sort through your feelings and emotions. Then you can embrace your family’s love and use it to propel over the hurdles of the holidays.

Talk To A Depression Counselor

A depression counselor can help you through your current bout of depression and experiences you may have in the future. During your depression counseling sessions, you will identify the root causes of your depression, along with effective ways to overcome your symptoms moving forward. Learn how to handle depression triggers and gain a valuable support system you can depend on.

To schedule an appointment with a depression counselor in Ann Arbor, Clarkston, Bingham Farms or Plymouth, MI, contact Heron Ridge Associates.

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