Advice on coping with the holiday blues

It's the week after Thanksgiving. Which means, if it hadn't started already, businesses are now playing non-stop holiday music; neighborhoods are decorated with red and green lights; and your Facebook wall is filled with pictures of Christmas trees and little kids on Santa's lap.

For some it's the most wonderful time of the year. For others suffering from mental illness, dealing with the death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc., Christmastime is anything but.

Last December, I had recently gone through a brutal break-up. And while going to holiday parties where most family members were accompanied by a significant other, the heartbreak felt even more severe (although my bank account appreciated it).

Here's some advice from Blue Care Network of Michigan on how to deal with seasonal depression during the holidays:

Don't overbook yourself.  
Don't say yes to every single invitation. You may not be able to go to every Christmas party you're invited to, and that's okay.

Seek companionship. 
While you shouldn't stress yourself out, also  -- even more importantly -- make sure not to spend the holidays alone. Participate in a community event or schedule time to spend with your friends (and, if you just went through a break-up, have a girls or guys night -- no significant others allowed. This was a life saver for me last year.)

If you're dealing with financial pressures, forego the presents and instead, donate your time to those less fortunate. This can help lift your spirits and help you make new friendships. 

Try something new
Habit or routine can also contribute to the rut you're in, Blue Care Network reports. Suggest Christmas Day sledding or learning how to ski this holiday season, for example.

 Keep healthy habits. 
Eating a lot of cookies and drinking a lot of spiked eggnog isn't going to help you feel better. According to studies, a diet high in fat increases depression and anxiety. Instead, Blue Care Network suggests eating healthy snacks before going to a party so you're not as hungry. Also, squeeze in a workout whenever possible. 

Try light therapy. 
Serotonin levels increase with exposure to the summer sun -- a major reason why moods tend to be more elevated during the summer, reports Medicine Net. According to some researchers, light therapy may help to alleviate symptoms of depression faster than antidepressant drugs. Check out some light therapy on Amazon

Ask for assistance
You don't have to deal with your depression and pain alone. See a therapist, call a crisis line or join a support group. To find a support group near you, visit The group is also hosting a special "Surviving the Holidays" seminar. 

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