RISMEDIA, Dec. 12, 2007-It happens once a year. The holidays creep up on us with family gatherings, presents, and shopping lists. Everybody seems happy and has somewhere to go. Even with all of the food and good cheer going around during the holiday season the truth is that a lot of people suffer from depression and aren’t sure why they feel so blue.
Nina Danielson, author of What to Do When Your Therapist Isn’t There discusses why we feel like staying in bed rather than decking the halls, and what to do about it. Setting our expectations too high (for ourselves and others) during the holidays is one of the reasons we might get depressed. We also might feel disappointed because Thanksgiving and Christmas are never the ideal occasions we have hoped for and dreamed about. In the case of unrealistic expectations, we have to go back and modify those demands. We cannot possibly be all the things that we ask ourselves to be, nor can we be all things to all people. Perhaps our expectations are to be the perfect mother, father, sister, friend, volunteer worker, teacher, or whatever. By reducing unrealistic expectations, depression won’t creep in because we allow ourselves to be human.’
Here are some of the coping strategies she suggests:
- The Roots: Try to identify the underlying cause of your depression-anger, loss, unrealistic expectations, feeling cheated or a combination of feelings-and allow yourself to experience the feelings without judging them.
- Lighten up: It is enough to just be a good and happy human being. Getting into an argument with loved ones or missing a promotion are not reasons to feel like a failure.
- Reach out to loved ones and remember that you always matter!
Danielson says that no one should have to be depressed during the holidays. Keeping realistic expectations for ourselves along with identifying depression can help us to cope even when our therapist is on vacation.
Nina Danielson, M.S.W., is a seasoned therapist and lecturer with 30 years of experience. She earned her Masters of Social Work from Columbia University and is an advisor for The Compassionate Friends, a support network for bereaved parents and siblings. She maintains a private practice on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and three children.
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