Getting Through Christmas While Struggling with SAD
Season Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is usually known as the “winter blues” due to the symptoms becoming more severe during the darker, colder months. Symptoms begin in the autumn months, as the days get shorter, and become more severe during December. Symptoms of SAD typically include a persistent low mood, a loss of interest in everyday activities, irritability, feelings of guilt, and feeling lethargic.
However, there are ways to combat SAD and enjoy the Christmas holiday by following these 10 steps:
Give yourself time to relax and unwind.
When suffering from the winter blues, fatigue can make you struggle to get through the day. Christmas is a very busy time of the year and can easily tire you out while you’re already feeling extremely lethargic. Plan ahead and schedule some time to relax.
Take a walk during sunlight hours.
The symptoms of SAD can be enhanced due to the reduced exposure of sunlight. While the days are shorter, the winter days can give you limited time in any sunlight. Try to get as much Vitamin-D as possible by going out for a walk while the sun is still up. This will not cure your depression, but it may help boost your mood and energy.
Start preparing for the day as early as possible.
Christmas time can be stressful with last minute shoppers and being bombarded with loud Christmas music everywhere you go. Avoid the busy atmosphere by doing all of your shopping early or online. This will prevent some of the stress that may come within the last days leading up to Christmas. By preparing early it will help you to feel satisfied in knowing all of your hard work is finished early. Most importantly, you’ll feel as though some of the pressure has been lifted off your shoulders.
Talk to your friends and family.
Let your friends and family know how you’re feeling so that they can be aware of your symptoms on Christmas Day. There is nothing worse than being surrounded by people who don’t understand when there is so much pressure to put a smile on your face all day.
Get an early night the night before.
Having a good night’s sleep by going to bed early on Christmas Eve can help avoid feeling morning fatigue the next day. Sometimes it may feel impossible to get out of bed when you have SAD but having a good night’s rest may help you feel refreshed the following morning.
Don’t drink too much on Christmas day.
Alcohol is a known depressant, so you should avoid drinking too much when you’re already suffering with seasonal depression. Most people enjoy drinking on Christmas Day – and this isn’t to say to avoid it completely. But make sure to go steady and not overindulge.
Take yourself away from social media.
Social media can leave you feeling insecure. You will most likely see many of your friends looking incredibly happy with flashy gifts all over your newsfeed. If this is something that will leave you feeling disheartened or comparing your day to theirs, remove yourself from social media for a while. Always remember that most people will post only their best moments on social media. So, make the most of your time by focusing on yourself and some much-needed time with your family.
Avoid family conflicts.
While Christmas Day is supposed to be a joyous time of the year, some family conflicts may occur. Avoid the family drama by taking yourself away from the situation as soon as you start to sense it is about to occur. You do not need the added stress.
Don’t put pressure on yourself.
Most importantly, do not put pressure on yourself to have a magical Christmas Day. Things don’t always have to be perfect during the holidays. It’s okay not to be cheerful all the time. It’s okay to want to have some time to yourself. Do not force yourself to feel a certain way just to satisfy others. Make sure to take time to focus on yourself so that you can get through the holidays as easy as possible.
Book a session with a mental health professional.
One of the only positive things about SAD is that you can prepare for it. Knowing when it will most likely occur means that you can take the time to book a session with a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help give you the needed resources to help you get through Christmas, including self-care therapy sessions and short-term medication.