Managing Depression At Christmas

Christmas,  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”.  Except when it isn’t.

When you suffer from depression Christmas holidays can be difficult. Songs of joy, ringing bells, can be hard because you are feeling anything but joy.

If your depression is in remission the added stress of too many activities in too few days can cause a relapse.

What can we do when the whole world sings Christmas carols and we are feeling the
“blues?”

The key is planning. Be prepared ahead of time for the inevitable stressors of the season. First be aware of the things that trigger your depression and then minimize them as much as possible. More than ever your self-care is critical. Have your plan in place.

Medication management is the first step.  Maintain your medications as suggested by your psychiatrist.  We all have a desire to stop medication but one of the first signs of oncoming relapse is stopping medication too early.  This does not mean you will stay on medications forever but you may need them longer than you think.

If you have an infection you take a course of antibiotics. Not finishing the prescribed medicine cause the infection to worsen. Anti-depressants may be the same way.  Stopping too early can throw a person into a relapse.

Stress relieving tools are important in recovery.  During your depression you practiced certain healthy stress relievers, such as, exercise, sunlight, meditation and prayer, getting sufficient sleep, and more.

Continue to practice those stress relieving coping skills.

Be aware when stress levels increase.  Overwork or being over scheduled, personal relationship friction, lack of sufficient sleep,  illness, these and more can lead to relapse.  Be aware of these issues and practice stress management.  Everyone has different stressors and you need to be aware of yours. You will need to increase use of your basic care-taking behaviors.

For example, one of the ways my body tells me of stress is in shoulder tension.  My shoulder tension correlates to the amount of my stress.It begins with tightness, then becomes numb, and finally succumbs to sharp pains in knotted muscles.

Become familiar with how your body communicates stress to you.

There was a period of time when I would develop severe back pain.  My wife noticed that it always happened when I had a wedding to perform.  The family conflicts of the wedding party,  as well as tensions over the wedding details, created stress in my back that made it difficult for me to walk!

Be self-aware of your stressors.  I have found if I try to ignore stress it takes residence in my body.

Know yourself.  Know what helps relieve stress and what minimum amount is helpful.  For example your exercise might require 15 minutes a day, for others 30 minutes may be necessary to combat daily stress.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Cor 6:19-20

Christ dwelling in you is a great mystery is the greatest Christmas miracle.  And that means that you—your body, soul, and mind—-are a temple, a dwelling place of God.  God cares how you nurture yourself, physically, spiritually, and emotionally by sending His Son into the world. What a wonderful Christmas gift..

God cares for you.

Take care of yourself..

May this season be blessed for you.

 

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