Preparing for Holiday Depression

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, November 8, 2021

Autumn is finally here, and with it comes shortening days and holiday gatherings. Holiday depression sets in during this time for many Americans. This article will discuss what holiday depression is, and ways that you can work on bettering your depressive feelings during this time.

What is Holiday Depression?

Holiday depression is a culmination of many factors that lead to feelings of depression and anxiety during the Fall and Winter holiday season. This usually occurs from October to the new year. Most notably, it can come from shortened daylight hours as the season shortens, more time indoors due to the cold, and monetary stress due to the seasonal obligations. For some people, there can be other factors. One such aspect that is common is the acknowledgment that a loved one is no longer with us during these times. After a loved one passes away or moves far away, it can be hard to accept that there is going to be one less person around the table. 

Making Plans Ahead of Time

Routines and schedules help us stay focused and get things done. But they can also help us navigate depressive feelings. It can be especially important to schedule time for self-care. This can be in the form of fun activities with loved ones, or time to unwind. Scheduling time to unwind with a book, take a nap, or even just going for a walk can be incredibly helpful. 

You Don’t Have to be Perfect

Trying to get everything just right for the family gathering can be incredibly stressful. Accepting that perfection is not needed, and often impossible can take a lot of stress out of event planning. 

Avoiding Family Conflicts

It may sound impossible to avoid conflicts at a family gathering. Especially in planning holiday gatherings, family conflicts can be difficult to avoid altogether. Political arguments, ancient history, and current relationships (or lack thereof) can all spark conflicts at family events. Ultimately, trying to de-escalate conflicts before they become major issues can be a good way to handle this. Another thing you can try is to walk away. Escape to the bathroom or lend a hand in the kitchen if possible. One last strategy you can try is by responding in neutral terms. Consider staying out of the conflicts by offering non-combative phrases such as "I can see that you feel that way," or “There are certainly many things to consider here,” which can help you stay out of the line of fire. 

Focus on the Good

For all of the daunting and heavy parts of the holiday season, it isn’t hard to find some good things too. Watch your favorite holiday movies, or participate in fun fall activities such as apple picking. Additionally, surround yourself with your favorite people, not just family. Good friends and loved ones can be the ones you can rely on the most during the holiday season. 

Dealing with the Empty Seat

Planning for one (or more) less person at the holiday table can be a daunting experience. Every time you go over the meal plan or start setting the table, it’s hard not to be reminded of those who are missing. Memories of holidays spent with them can get dredged up. Fathers that carve the turkey, or favorite dishes from your aunt might be missing. However, there are ways to keep traditions alive and memorialize those we have lost. Consider doing something in their memory that day. Put out a photo and a candle for the one you have lost, or consider making a small memorial for them during the holiday. 

The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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