Coping with Depression When Everyone Else has Joy

For some, Christmas is an exciting and joyous time of year. For others, however, Christmastime is painful and the most difficult time of the year. Whether it is painful memories, financial difficulties, loneliness, or other personal challenges, there are things you can do to help survive and yes, even thrive during the holidays.

1. Give your body healthy fuel. Just as your car would not function well if you used water or soft drinks, your body needs quality fuel to function at its best.

2. Get outside and move. Your body needs sunlight and movement. Take a walk. Enjoy a walk in the park or take a bike ride.

3. Be kind to yourself. What do you do well? How were you able to get through a tough day? It may have been difficult, but…you did it! Pat yourself on the back and give yourself credit for the things that you accomplish.

4. Recognize that if you are depressed, you likely do not see yourself in a realistic way. Remember seeing an old mirror? You know. One of those mirrors that is so clouded and distorted that you cannot make out the image? That’s what depression is like. You cannot see the image, especially yourself, in a clear and realistic way. Just accept that…for right now…maybe you can’t trust those negative thoughts about yourself.

5. Choose to believe that your depression will lift. Depression is like a dark storm cloud. It may be so dark that you cannot see the path in front of you. It may be so dark that you cannot see anything. But, it is a dark storm cloud. It has a beginning and an end. The clouds do lift and move on.

6. Do something outside of yourself. Have you ever been driving and encountered a storm? Sometimes you pull over and wait for it to pass. But sometimes, you can see a glimpse of sunlight at the edge of the dark clouds. Or, you might just continue driving because you know it will eventually end. During depression, one of the most effective things to do, is to choose to do something for someone else. You most likely know someone who has a need. If not, go to a nursing home and sit and play cards with someone who has no family, or to a homeless shelter and help serve a meal. Not only is this a distraction, but it just feels good to do something for someone else.

7. Let it be okay to seek and accept help. I am a very independent person. When I was very pregnant with our twin daughters, I decided I couldn’t stay home one more minute, so I decided to go to Wal-Mart. Big mistake. I made it into the store okay, but I honestly did not know if I was going to make it back to my car. (My husband is going to scold me when he reads this!) I must have looked pathetic, as a sweet older couple who must have been in their 70s at least, offered to help me back to my car. Okay, Lord….I got it! It was okay to accept help!

8. Don’t watch tv. Television shows and movies are not intended to make you feel better.

9. Choose to find humor. Whether it is in stories you read or write, or in people or nature you watch. Choose to allow yourself to be amused.

10. Choose life. The storm will pass. You probably remember a time when you did not experience depression. For some, you may never remember that time. But, you are worth the effort to make it through the storm. The dark clouds may come and go, but there are ways to protect yourself from the storm. Surround yourself with protection. Allow yourself to accept grace.

You are amazing! Have a blessed day, Judy

“‘For I know the plans I have for you, ‘declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘ Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

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