Management & Leadership

Managing Depression over the Holidays

Dec 18, 2020 | By Saranne Durham
Managing Depression over the Holidays

Holiday depression may seem incongruous but it is a reality for many. The combination of high expectations, money woes, and other holiday hazards can spell trouble for anyone, but especially those prone to depression. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), one of SACAP’s fieldwork placement organisations, estimates that around 20% of South Africans are affected by holiday depression.

“Depression is a reality many face over the holiday season.”

Trying to balance and wrap up everything from end of the year work obligations, to figuring out family time during a pandemic as well as the additional financial pressure, can lead to you feeling overwhelmed, anxious and stressed. As well as prone to stress responses like headaches, excessive drinking, over eating, substance abuse or insomnia. SADAG warns that ignoring depression symptoms, in the hope that come January and the start of a new year they will dissipate, isn’t always the wisest option. ‘It can be dangerous to ignore depression symptoms for weeks or months,’ says the organisation’s Counselling Manager Cassey Amoore. ‘If you’re worried or unsure how to handle holiday depression, rather call us.’

“Seek help as soon as possible if you feel like you can’t cope.”

You are Not the Only One

Many people feel out of control during the holiday season.  However, each of us should remember we have a say in what happens around us and what we are involved or not involved in. The key to surviving the holidays is to take some control instead of letting everything control you. So, if you’re prone to depression or starting to feel a little anxious as to how you’re going to keep on top of things, these 7 Steps to Surviving the Holidays are for you!

7 Steps to Surviving the Holidays

  1. Don’t do it Alone: Ask for help with festive cooking, shopping and the long list of must-get-done-ASAPs you already have. Reach out and lean on your support systems when things get tough, including your network of close friends and family members who are willing to listen.
  2. Don’t feel Obligated: You’ve been invited to attend a party or family function, not keep the show on the road or be the last one to leave. Stay as long as you want to and leave before you stop enjoying yourself.
  3. Ditch Perfection: Gifts are about showing someone you thinking of and care about them. So, stop trying to find the perfect gift for each person and remember that any gift from the heart should be appreciated.
  4. Keep to Your Budget: Draw up a budget ahead and stick to it. Going over budget will make you feel out of control and ramp up your anxiety levels.
  5. Plan Ahead: Frequent late nights mean less sleep which leaves you vulnerable to feeling down and not coping. Pre-plan your holiday schedule with some down-time and earlier nights to catchup on sleep.
  6. Avoid Quick Fixes:  Alcohol is a depressant and drinking to help keep you going or get you into the “holiday cheer” is likely to leave you feeling worse. Rather take some time out, go for a walk or spend some quality time with a friend.
  7. Keep Your Schedule: If you take medication, don’t miss doses. It’s easy to forget to take your meds in the chaos of the holidays. So set an alarm, keep them where you can see them or ask someone to check you’ve remembered.

Seek help

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has counsellors on duty seven days a week from 8am to 8pm call 011 234 4837. Or use the 24hr Helpline 0800 456 789. For a suicide emergency call 0800 567 567 or 0800 12 13 14.

“Call 0800 456 789 for free advice and support.”

Interested in learning more about counselling? SACAP offers a range of courses, including part-time and full-time as well as distance learning options. For more information, enquire now.

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