My best to you for the holidays. In this blog, I would like to discuss the topic, dealing with the holiday blues. While the Christmas holiday season is considered to be a time of joy and merriment, it can also be a season of melancholy. Studies show that the incidence of depression increases during the holidays. It is helpful to remember that depression usually emanates from three sources; a sense of powerlessness, emotional disconnection or isolation, and cognitive distortions, such as jumping to negative conclusions and guilt-producing “shoulds.”

The following are some of my thoughts on how to strengthen your “emotional immune system” and buoy your mood.

1. Stay Connected to Trustworthy Others

Being separated from loved ones at this special time can lead to sadness during the holiday season. On the other hand, visiting family can also be a trigger as you can get into old dysfunctional patterns with family members. Parents may or may not be good sources of love and warmth during the holidays. During this time of year, both expectations and the risk of disappointments run high. To ensure you don’t get stuck in hurt, anger or despair, identify ahead of time who your “lifelines” are—the individuals that you find most nurturing in your life.  Widen the circle of those to whom you reach out.

2. Allow time to check-in with yourself 

You are one of the people with whom you want to stay connected.  So allow time to get in touch with your own quiet center.   Bring your journal, favorite CDs, sketch pad or yoga mat and try to make time to use them.  The holidays can be a rush of hectic activity.  Taking time to reflect and gather your thoughts will help you maintain equilibrium and regroup.

3. Maintain physical self-care 

Feeling good physically reduces your susceptibility to depression.   With the abundance of treats and alcohol during the holidays, the usual self-care routines often evaporate.  Just about everyone overindulges, so try not to criticize yourself if you do so.   But consider bringing natural or sugar free foods, such as fruits or vegetable platters, to social gatherings.  Try to exercise—even a brief walk can help. Movement brings increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and releases endorphins, the body’s painkilling chemicals.  It sounds basic, but don’t forget to drink plenty of water and get enough rest.

4. Identify and challenge cognitive distortions. 

Though you may have replaced your negative assumptions from childhood with healthier, more empowering ones, prolonged contact with your parents can trigger old ways of thinking.  Your mother’s glee about your sister’s pregnancy when you’re struggling with your fertility, or your dad’s thoughtless comments about your financial situation can generate old beliefs like, “I have to earn love” or “I’m inadequate.” Psychologists call these reactions automatic negative thoughts, ANTs, recognizing they can get triggered in a flash and sink our mood.

You can often stop a downward spiral with a three-step process: 1.List your negative thoughts on paper.  2.Try to identify the events that triggered this negativity. 3. Try to write a positive rebuttal for each negative thought, such as, “I deserve to be loved for who I am” and “I’m proud of my caring nature.” Your lifeline people can help by reminding you of your gifts and accomplishments. It is always easier to practice good self-care when you have the loving support of other people.

5. Connect with Your Spirituality

See if you can use this time to connect your spirituality and find a way to draw support from the spirit of the season. Although it has been commercialized, the message of Christmas is that of loving and giving. Viewing films such as A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life can be sources of inspiration. Find ways to unselfishly give to yourself others

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. If you would like more information on overcoming depression, continue to browse or watch some of my your tubes at: