The holidays can be a wonderful time, full of joy, happy memories and quality time spent with your loved ones. For a lot of people however, this time of year can unfortunately trigger depression. Mental health professionals experience an increase in reports of depression centered around holiday celebrations every year. This happens for a number of reasons.

Some see the world celebrating, happy and joyful, and wish their lives were as enjoyable. This can lead to thoughts of self-doubt and depression. Others see the end of the year arriving. It seems like it was only this time last year they were making so many plans and setting so many goals. A year has passed, and they are right where they were this time last year. This type of thinking can quickly lead to “the holiday blues”.

Avoiding a poor emotional state during any holiday celebration is possible however. Overly high expectations, financial issues, seasonal weight gain and other holiday-based and year-end stressors can be encountered and handled without triggering depression and anxiety.

Simply planning ahead can reduce most of your seasonal worries. Add stress-relieving activities when you are planning for shopping, decorating and other traditional holiday tasks. You can also limit the impact of stressful family conflicts by avoiding them, or simply saying, “Let’s talk about this at another time.”

You should also try to avoid perfection during the holidays. Plan for success and “good enough” when decorating, baking, planning vacations and buying gifts. Perfection is seldom achieved, and almost never realized. The Mayo Clinic, advises you to be realistic in your expectations during the holidays. This closely dovetails with the above recommendation to avoid seeking perfection. People and families change over time. This means what was once an annual holiday tradition may not be feasible anymore.

Developing a budget and sticking to it is a huge part of avoiding the blues during the holidays, and afterward. Well in advance of the holidays you should write out a realistic budget, and judiciously follow it.

Sometimes the holiday blues can be delivered because you refuse to bury the hatchet. You may seriously object to the actions or lifestyle of someone you encounter during the holidays, and perhaps rightfully so. However, why not set aside your differences during this time of year which should be centered around emotionally positive ideas like sharing, loving and forgiving?

Finally, make time for yourself. Make sure you enjoy some alone time during this traditionally hectic season. That doesn’t mean alone time with your kids, your significant other, or your friends. It means carving out a segment during the busy holiday season where you take care of your special needs, and no one else’s.

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