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31 July, 2008

How To-74: "How to Sidestep Depression During the Holidays"

How to Sidestep Depression During the Holidays

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

The season of light can be very dark for many people. The holidays represent a stressful time for most. Expectations are high, commitments are many, and time seems more scarce than ever. With a few helpful tips and some planning, many of these issues can be avoided.


  1. Start early. As the adage “The early bird catches the worm" counsels, getting a head start on your holiday preparations can save you a lot of headaches later on. Gather your family members and quiz them on their favorite foods. Compile a list of your favorite meals, then select the ones that combine the best. Who ever said you can’t have spaghetti for a holiday meal? Do what works for yourself and your family. Reaching a compromise and an agreement early on takes the stress out of last-minute meal planning.
  2. Shop ahead. If you have a mile-long list of people to gift this year, consider buying in bulk. Forget buying an individual gift for all your child’s preschool pals. Go to a warehouse which sells things in large quantities and earmark those items for larger groups.
  3. Remember the reason for the season. If you come from a Christian background, remind your children that Christmas is not about Santa Claus alone, but about celebrating Jesus’s birthday. We give and receive gifts as a reminder of his importance in our lives.
  4. Manage your children's expectations. It will help prevent an embarrassing outburst on Christmas morning in front of Aunt Sarah when your child fails to get his favorite toy.
  5. Make a mailing list. Use your Excel computer application, if you have one, to manage your addresses. Have your children help dig through old Christmas cards to find addresses of long lost friends and relatives. Allow your children to cut up the old Christmas cards to make new ones of their own.
  6. Use an advent calendar. Advent is a neat time of year in Germany. It is comprised of the last four Sundays before Christmas. We use an advent calendar with the 25 days up to Christmas to help our children deal with the anxiety of waiting for the big day. You can make your own by wrapping 25 little treats to be opened each day. Or get a regular calendar and place a special sticker on each day as it begins.
  7. Get exercise. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, light is a precious commodity. Be sure to get out during your lunch break for a bit of sun exposure. Even on cloudy days, it can revive your spirit and give you the oxygen you require. Shovel snow if it applies to you.
  8. Get enough sleep. Have you noticed that when the days are shorter your need for sleep increases? It is a natural response. In a way, our bodies shut down. Honoring your need for rest is as important as ever.
  9. Eat vitamin-enriched food. If the sun is weaker in your area, your daily dose of vitamins needs to come from your food intake. Take vitamins and drink fruit tea and lemon to stave off the common cold.
  10. Communicate with your partner. Oftentimes, admitting you feel blue is all you need to reach acceptance that things aren’t always perfect.
  11. Take time to celebrate with friends, or catch up with people you may not see often. A phone call to distant relatives or friends will brighten both your days.
  12. Volunteer in your neighborhood. Helping others often gives a boost to your own spirit, and is a good way to meet new people and build new friendships. Is there a canned food drive? What about gift wrapping for a charity? Maybe a soup kitchen?
  13. Celebrate the winter solstice. Mark off the days on your calendar to encourage yourself that a new beginning is right around the corner. Gather with friends to honor this age-old rite of passage into the season of renewal.
  14. The winter solstice also marks the fewest number of daylight hours, and that can make getting out of bed difficult in the mornings. To create your own artificial "sunrise" in an otherwise dark bedroom, use a multi-light lamp hooked up to timer. There are other ways to Brighten-up-a-Dark-Room too.


  • In some women, depression may be caused (or worsened) by low hormone levels, most commonly progesterone...and progesterone levels drop in times of stress (such as the holidays). Progesterone helps keep serotonin levels from dropping too low, and low serotonin can cause depression. Doctors can test for low progesterone and prescribe it (though many doctors are unaware of the link with depression); it is even available without prescription, which gives you an idea how safe it is when used according to directions. Indications that a depression may be progesterone related are: symptoms get worse in the two weeks before menses, during perimenopause/menopause, or after giving birth. Anxiety-depression is most commonly seen, sometimes accompanied by severe mood swings and insomnia; some women may get more headaches/migraines. NOTE: synthetic progestins such as Provera, medroxyprogesterone, DepoProvera, and birth control pills can make these symptoms worse instead of better; we're talking about progesterone specifically, not its "substitutes". Progesterone is available as Progest cream (a good brand) without prescription, and as Prometrium capsules with prescription; compounding pharmacies also make various dose forms (such as Progesterone 50 mg/ml Lotion, compounded).


  • Many people get stressed and feel down during the winter holiday season, but if you're really feeling depressed, see a therapist or a doctor. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real type of seasonal depression that may require medication or light box therapy.

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