Tis the season to be jolly…..

Everywhere you look, there are festive buntings, fairy lights, Christmas trees and fake Santas. Our newspapers are screaming with festive offers and people are posting cheerful greetings, warm and fuzzy photographs across social media as well as making plans to spend time with friends and family.

Elsa Marie DSilva

This truly is a happy time for many, but it might be a time that others do not look forward to. Whatever their reasons may be, there are some people who hate this time of the year and the constant reminder to feel happy and be loved. In fact, it can be extremely depressing and debilitating to those who don’t feel like celebrating.

If you are one of those people and find the entire season overwhelming, here are some tips to stay focused and not depressed.

  • Identify the triggers that bring an onslaught of depression. It could be a memory, a song, a particular phrase, a type of food or even alcohol. If you have identified it, learn to deal with it. Tell yourself that you will not let it affect you.
  • If you need help, seek out counselling. There is no shame in it. Depression is the most common form of mental illness affecting 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men at least once in their lifetime. There are quite a few helplines that can address your needs.
  • Try to disengage with social media so you don’t have to deal with the constant posts, comments, pictures and videos of people advertising their happiness.
  • Find concrete things that you like doing and spend time on those pursuits. This may be reading a novel, going for a trek, watching a movie or a play or simply finding quiet space to think or nap.
  • Keep in touch with close family and friends who would understand you and not pressurise you to be part of the festivities. They will respect and give you your space.
  • Don’t feel tempted to give in to peer pressure. You have a choice and you can exercise it.
  • If you are on medication, do not mix it with alcohol.
  • Look beyond yourself. There are others like you out there who might need help as well. Form a support group, or, as my friend Bisi Alimi in London is doing, invite them over to spend the holiday together with you and others who feel similarly or have nowhere to go.
  • Be active and don’t give in to the temptation to slip under the covers all day and stay lethargic. It will not help you or anyone else. Even 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise can boost your spirits.
  • Go back to nature or walk in the park as it has regenerative effects on your mood and outlook.
  • Watch what you eat. Junk food and too many sweets can have a negative effect on your mood whilst fresh vegetables and fruits improves it.
  • Make sure you sleep enough hours.
  • Don’t excessively ruminate about your life or your failures. If you find yourself doing that, immediately hold it in check and identify a positive activity to engage in.
  • Be grateful. Make a list of all the positives in your life. Research suggests that writing down even just three acts of gratitude and journaling about one positive experience can boost your brain to be more positive.

I do hope you find the above useful and that your holiday period is satisfying and meaningful.