In the coldest months, it’s understandable to feel down despite the holidays. Music, lights, and festivities can be an exciting and joyous time for some people, and at the same time a trigger for depressive periods in others. Many times this results in you feeling alone as if you are the only one who feels this way. I’m here to say, hard no, you are not alone!
Many report that in the “happiest season of all,” they feel at their lowest. Depression around the holidays can be caused by the loss of relatives or being unable to take time off, but it can also be brought about by a mismatch in expectations and reality. That is, what you might expect or want to happen during the holidays does not always occur. To tackle this thorny issue around the holidays, here is what you should consider this season.
What Causes Depression at the Holidays?
Depression during the holiday season may be linked to negative memories, but sometimes it’s a little less acute than that. If you find yourself feeling down during the holiday season and you’re not able to pinpoint the exact reason, it could be because of a difference between your expectation for the holidays and what actually takes place. This could mean that those untold expectations you hold—or that your children, partner, or family members hold—are not being met during the holiday festivities. Often, this is because our expectations are not discussed ahead of time! You may assume that you know what others want out of the holidays, or that they know what you want, but if you never discuss it, you’ll never truly understand the expectations at play.
How to Mitigate Holiday Depression
Mitigating the effects of holiday depression caused by this mismatch between expectations and reality may seem overwhelming to parse through at first, but it is rather simple: have an open and honest conversation about your expectations and the expectations of others for the holiday. Being open and vulnerable is hard, but it is highly worth it when it comes to warding off those holiday blues. Go through everything that happens at holiday time, and make sure no question goes unanswered! As a family, discuss traditions you’d like to keep or cease, where you’d like to be during the holidays, whether you’d like to have extended family over, and more. You may discover that something as unassuming as the food you serve could be the cause of unnecessary anguish. For instance, maybe that casserole you labor over every year because you feel obligated to make it isn’t your husband’s favorite after all. Having this open conversation about expectations is key in unearthing holiday pitfalls that can cause depression.
Your Holiday Future
Making sure you shift your mindset away from what a holiday “should” be and toward what your family would like it to be will go a long way in creating a happy and joyous holiday celebration. Be open to changing things up a bit to ensure that each choice surrounding the holidays brings your family joy and satisfaction.