By Kellie A. Dodson
The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness, togetherness and celebration, but for many it is a time for sadness, isolation and depression. The memories (good and bad) come to haunt some, especially those that are alone or have health or financial issues that prevent them from celebrating as they have in the past. Unrealistic expectations, loss of loved ones and loneliness can add even more stress to the situation.
If you find yourself feeling sad and/or stressed about the holidays here are some helpful hints:
1. Go out with friends and relatives. Attend parties, events, or even invite others into your home. Celebrating does not have to be about inviting a large group and preparing a large meal. It can be about cocoa, cookies and an old holiday movie. You can attend church plays and programs or community events.
2. Volunteer. Holidays are a time of giving. Help with an annual food or toy drive. You can also help with a school or church play. Giving to others makes you feel worthwhile. It makes you feel good.
3. Do not drink too much alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and it can make you feel much worse than you felt beforehand.
4. Accept your feelings and talk about them. It is normal to feel blue at times. Talking to others about feeling can help you understand why you feel the way you do and can make you feel better.
5. Recognize the signs of depression: sadness that does not go away; loss of interest in things you enjoy; changes in appetite or weight; sleeping too much or being extremely tired for no reason; frequent crying; restlessness; feeling worthless, hopeless or guilty; and thoughts of death or suicide.
6. See your physician or healthcare provider if you are depressed. Depression is treatable, and you do not have to suffer.
Many people do not realize that they are depressed. If you are a friend or a relative of someone that you suspect is depressed encourage them to see their physician. Here are some other things that you can do to help:
1. Invite them to do things with you and to holiday gatherings. You may need to ask if they are on a special diet or provide transportation for them.
2. Help with holiday tasks. Help them do decorating or other preparations for the holidays. Invite them to go shopping with you.
3. Be a good listener. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and acknowledge that they may be having a difficult time.
4. Encourage them to talk to their healthcare provider. Let them know of your concern for them, and that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Offer to make an appointment for them and take them there.