Contrary to popular opinion, the end of the year holidays are a very difficult time for many people. Depression is often worse then. Winter is coming on; other people seem almost obnoxiously happy and there are many social gatherings. If one is not in the best mood or has experienced personal reverses or some serious losses and is grieving, the holidays can make the situation worse. Here are some suggestions to help.
- Get more exercise. Perhaps this is a surprising first tip but actually exercise helps our bodies generate the right chemistry for joy. It physically helps the body balance moods. Exercise also helps our sleep patterns. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
- Practice giving thanks for little things. When we are depressed we focus on the negative. In wholesome contrast, the habit of thanksgiving helps us get a wider perspective on life and encourages us to appreciate what is good even amid our difficulties.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcoholic drinks are often consumed by those who are depressed to help them “forget their troubles.” However, chemically alcohol depresses bodily functions and makes depression worse. http://www.ulifeline.org/articles/460-alcohol-and-depression
- Get in touch with the losses, hurts and angry feelings in your heart. Frequently depression has components related to grief and anger from circumstances in our lives, sometimes cumulative circumstances. When we are depressed, we may not be dealing in a healthy way with these feelings. It helps so much to be conscious of the roots of our sadness and then to talk it out with trusted and wise friends, counselors or pastors. Hiding these feelings inside feeds our depression in unconscious ways. Praying about these feelings also helps; think of prayer as talking out our feelings and circumstances with God.
- Keep interacting with your friends and family. When we are depressed, we have a natural tendency to isolate ourselves, but this is not the healthiest thing for us to do. Maintaining or even increasing our usual connections with family and friends will help us greatly in getting through our time of depression. The warmth of friendship and love is healing for us even when it is hard to reciprocate. True friends understand.
- Remember the character of God. He is a God of Hope and Encouragement (Romans 15:5, 13). So drawing near to God helps immensely. If it is hard to pray yourself, ask a Christian friend to pray with you. Keep attending services, if at all possible. Remember that God knows the hurts of your heart (Psalm 10:14). When words don’t come, He hears your heart.
- Find some key Bible verses that speak to you. Write them on cards and place them where you will see them often or put them on your computer desktop. They will help reshape your thinking. Reading in the Psalms will help you find them. Here are some suggestions to begin. 1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 11:28; Psalm 23; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 46:1, 2; Psalm 55:22; Psalm 56:3; Hebrews 13:5, 6; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Isaiah 40:29-31; Isaiah 46:4, Isaiah 57:15; Philippians 4:4-8; and Psalm 103.
Finally, it you don’t find yourself making progress, seek help. It is a strong thing to do to recognize when we could use a little help and seek it. Counselors, pastors and doctors are trained to help in sensitive ways. Most everyone has times in their lives when they could benefit greatly from counsel.