On the surface, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration. Movies and advertisements tell us we should spend from Thanksgiving to New Year’s in a state of constant gratitude, warmth and happiness. They also tell us we have to buy all the right gifts, cook every meal to perfection, decorate our houses like Martha Stewart and, in the copious free time left after all this effort, make sure each of our friends and family knows just how important they are to us.
With all these demands and expectations, it’s no surprise that the holiday season turns from joy and celebration to stress and anxiety for many people. That stress and anxiety can spiral into depression, especially for those of us dealing with things like disease and loss.
So, how do we deal with holiday depression, or better yet, stop it before it starts? Here are a few tips for getting through the holiday season.
- Manage expectations and prioritize. If you expect to throw a holiday party that’s fit for a magazine spread, you’re likely to be disappointed – unless you have an art director, interior decorator and catering service working for you! Remember what’s important about the holidays. Your family and friends care for you because of YOU, not because you gave them the perfect gift and your dining room table looked immaculate.
- Find support in community. The holidays can be an incredibly lonely time for many, especially if you’ve recently lost a loved one. Know that you are not alone. Our My CCA Support Online Community is available 24 hours a day, and our Buddy Program is a great way to find support and friendship too. You can also look to your church, community groups, friends and family.
- Acknowledge your feelings. It’s OK if you’re not filled with joy every minute of every day. Remember to take time to yourself and cry if you need to.
- Keep to a budget. You can’t buy happiness with the most expensive gifts and decorations. Decide how much you can spend and then stick to your decision! Overspending is a huge source of stress during the holidays.
- Manage your time. Saying yes to one thing should mean saying no to something else. It’s easy to run yourself ragged with over-commitments. Learn to accept that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day and days in the week to do everything you’d like to. Prioritize and plan. Make time for rest.
- Lend a helping hand. Often when we’re feeling down, helping someone else is a good way to gain perspective and find some joy. Visit an elderly friend, help at a soup kitchen, serve at your church or, of course, volunteer for the Colon Cancer Alliance.
- Seek help. If you find yourself dealing with serious depression, seek professional help. Symptoms of depression include sadness, loss of energy, hopelessness, loss of enjoyment and thoughts of suicide.
Remember, you are not alone. Call our toll-free Helpline at (877) 422-2030 to talk with a Patient Support Advocate Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe and healthy holiday season.