The holidays are here. That usually means family, food, friends, love, thankfulness, gifts, and visits home. It is the time of year we get to slow down, reflect, and spend time with loved ones. Unfortunately, the holidays are also the time of year many people struggle with the “D” word, depression. Depression is a medical condition in which a person feels sad, hopeless, and unimportant. Depression affects 1 in 10 Americans. Unfortunately, it is considered a taboo subject within our community. The Root Out Loud recently did a video highlighting depression within our community. The symptoms of depression become more apparent when navigating the landscape of life gets overwhelming and less predictable. When life presents inevitable challenges like the loss of a loved one, job, missed promotion, not attaining goals, unable to buy gifts for loved ones, understand that depression is usually looming in the shadows.
To offset depression, it is important to be equipped with a healthy response. Battling against depression takes work. A healthy response to depression involves intentional work to reset the three emotions associated with depression: sadness, hopelessness, and unimportance. Below are three tips to help you battle depression during this holiday season and beyond.
Tip #1 Silence the Sadness
Even though depression is a condition, its symptoms can color the way we see the world. A person wearing “depression lenses” will more than likely see an entire day in a negative light when in reality the negativity of that day is based on one experience. To silence the sadness, choose a day, week, month or year to reflect on. Then take an “inventory” of your selection by identifying the moments that were positive and those that were negative. You’ll soon discover that the positive moments outweigh the negative ones. Challenge yourself to speak more about the positive moments of your day, week, month and year. The resulting positivity-talk can become a habitual tool to silence the sadness of depression.
Tip #2 Hush the Hopelessness
We are our harshest critic. We know ourselves best and we especially know what we can and cannot do. It is important to note how the feeling of hopelessness associated with depression seeks to trump what we know about ourselves and impact our underlying belief about ourselves. Hopelessness can usher people into a state misalignment. To hush feelings of hopelessness, realign your belief system. The first step in aligning our beliefs to inform what we know about ourselves involves differentiating between our abilities and what we believe are our abilities. Our beliefs must be grounded in truth. Even if depression and hopelessness prompts you to believe false statements about your abilities, battle back through realignment. This type of realignment work will require that you honestly assess your abilities without applying previous experiential conditions.
Tip #3 Undermine any Unimportance
Did you know that we are bombarded with anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day? Of these, about 80% of them are negative. Imagine how increasingly difficult it can be to honor our self-worth, build our self-esteem, and feel important. It is even more challenging during the holiday season when people unrealistically attach our self-worth to our ability to provide them with gifts or other tangible items. When you combine a plethora of negative thoughts and impractical expectations, a person’s feelings of unimportance are heightened and can lead to depression. To undermine these feelings of unimportance and push back against people’s unrealistic expectations, I suggest that you connect with your inherent greatness. To connect with this greatness, just remember that you were born great. Therefore, you are valuable. Then create a portable reminder system that alerts you at least three times a day. Be creative as you set these alerts to confirm your innate greatness and that your value is not connected to your ability to provide.
Yes, the holidays are here. Actively push back against depression through healthy engagement. Keep accurate accounts of your experiences to challenge any “false reads” associated with wearing “depression lenses.” Then trash all misaligned beliefs about your abilities. Finally, repurpose moments in your everyday life to reflect who you are and your inherent value to the world. As a result, you will be able to enjoy the holidays and be equipped to respond to the unpredictable moments of the coming New Year.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and drowning in depression, please contact your health care provider or reach out to the Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance.