Is Christmas depression stopping you from enjoying festive celebrations? Feeling sad at Christmas is incredibly common. Even though the holidays are all about merriment and cheer, it’s normal to find December a difficult month.
Use the great outdoors to relieve your Christmas depression
One of the most effective ways to help you stop feeling depressed at Christmas is to get outside more. The difficultly is, at this time of year, with dark mornings and plunging temperatures, it can be harder than ever to spend time outside.
The benefits of reconnecting with nature for people who suffer from depression are found in study after study.
“From a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking in the wilderness, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation. Most research so far has focused on green spaces such as parks and forests, and researchers are now also beginning to study the benefits of blue spaces, places with river and ocean views.” American Psychological Association
Modern day life is so dependant on screen time that we can easily spend a week without any quality time outside. The advice from experts in mental health research though is to prioritise escaping to nature when you can.
“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human wellbeing,” says Lisa Nisbet, PhD, a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who studies connectedness to nature. “You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”
Turn to the Bible to encourage you
The Bible is a treasure trove of riches: from ancient wisdom to inspiring poetry. When holiday depression kicks in, taking a moment or two to meditate on scripture can be just the medicine you need.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Remember to go easy on yourself
If you suffer from Christmas depression then remember, it’s OK to go easy on yourself. If you need to turn down an invitation to a holiday party or politely decline a shopping trip then do it. Prioritising your health and taking the space you need is important.
Increasing the amount of time you spend taking care of yourself at Christmas can help minimise those sad feelings during the holiday. If self care for you means reading more, cooking or maybe connecting with a friend, then fill your diary with those activities.
Open up to your friends and family about your Christmas depression
Theologian and founder of the Methodist movement John Wesley would start his small group meetings with the question: “How is it with your soul?”. Answering this question encouraged members to be vulnerable with each other and to address how they were really feeling. This is a powerful act in the fight for good mental health.
Opening up to your friends and family about how you’re really feeling at Christmas can be an important first step in helping you navigate the festive season well.
Try volunteering your time
During the holiday season there are lots of opportunities to volunteer. There are homeless shelters and soup kitchens that will all be at their busiest during Christmas. Signing up to volunteer can be a great way of shifting your focus off your depression onto something else. This can make it easier to manage sad and anxious thoughts.
Check out what charities in your local area are up to this holiday season and see if you can lend some time to help.
Keep a routine in place
So much of our daily routine is affected by the holidays. Whether that’s employers letting you finish early or shops staying open late, December can feel like a strange month. One way to help you tackle Christmas depression is to try and keep your routine as similar as you can. Things like sticking to your normal wake up time can help send reassuring signals to your brain.
Ask friends and family to pray about your Christmas depression
Prayer can be your best weapon against Christmas depression. It can feel very exposing to ask people to pray for you but feeling sad at Christmas is worth taking seriously. Asking for prayer is a proactive, positive way to help deal with it.
Start small by sending a message to one or two people you feel really comfortable with, asking them to pray. On the Glorify App, you can do this by simply creating a prayer and sending a request to your friends and family to pray for you. Then, if you feel comfortable, consider asking members of your church group or congregation to pray too.
We have a loving, father God who hears and responds to our prayers. Don’t ever think your feelings aren’t worth praying about.
Listen to something affirming
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
What we feed our souls and brains on matters as much as what we feed our bodies with. During the holiday period why not try swapping the Christmas classics for some uplifting worship music? Or, line up a podcast from a favourite Bible teacher or a devotional on the Glorify app? These reminders of God’s great love for us are a powerful way to help undo sad feelings at Christmas.