Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Do you know someone who seems to isolate themselves around the same time each year? Do you ever just feel like the holidays, although joyous, sometimes carries a stressful undertone? Seasonal depression can occur in any season but let's talk about the holidays! More often than not we dismiss that isolation as a friend or relative being distant or too busy for us, but we all know that life can be a lot more complex than what's on the surface. I myself have gone through periods of time where life seems like it is coming at me from every direction. It's the holidays and every paycheck is dedicated to a bill, gifts for different family members, groceries for family dinners, festive activities for the kids, decorating to keep my families spirits up. It can put a toll on any person and sometimes the stress can make you crave alone time just to catch up or you just don't feel like unloading your problems on someone else. Whatever the reason, it can feel easier to just keep your anxiety or stress to yourself. We may be seeing only the surface of the someone's life, thinking their head is above the water, and they may simply struggling to stay afloat. It is important to start with a reflection on ourselves. Do I suffer from seasonal depression? If so create an action plan. Make a list of things that make you feel better, example: music, baking, bubble baths. Make a list of people you always want to know that you are okay, example: mom, twin, daughters. Isolation is not always negative and it can be a time of progress if we can focus on the things we can control. Write down an obtainable goal, for example: Take an online course or start a Youtube channel. Lastly research a mantra or affirmation that ideally is specific to isolation, example: "Solitude is the richness of self." Tape this your mirror or place near on your nightstand so that when you go to bed or wake up you can easily remind yourself that you can make it through. The goal isn't always to change the behavior, but to make it serve you in a positive way. How can you take this and help a friend or family going through seasonal depression? Understand that it is not your place to remove them from their isolation, first and foremost. Ask them what they want or need from you to feel supported. It can be disheartening to think that others see your struggle as something you can just snap out of, even if that isn't your intention. Assumptions are not healthy in these scenarios, so find out exactly in what ways they need support. Last of all, keep an eye on your friends or family who experience seasonal depression. If you notice anything extreme or that seems to lean towards harmful behavior, speak up. The goal of awareness is to extend an understanding on both ends. We all experience ups and downs in this life, and support in a healthy way can make a world of difference. Therapy is a wonderful tool to consider. It can provide a safe and unbiased ear and a plan to manage your anxiety or stress that is specific to your individual needs. There are many online therapist's available where you can speak with someone from the privacy of your own home, sweatpants and messy bun and all, with no judgement. Let's make the holidays a time for helping ourselves and supporting others. We are all in this together!