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If you or someone you know deals with holiday depression or anxiety, resources are available to provide comfort and support.

This article contains opinion.

 

The Christmas season is known as the most wonderful time of the year, but for some, the season just adds more stress, depression and even anxiety.

The holidays can make it seem like everything is going great for everyone else except you. Other people are happy, spreading Christmas cheer, but it doesn’t feel right. Something feels off. Whether it’s from people who have passed away or bad memories that seem to pop up just when you’re starting to feel better, you can’t help but feel that nagging feeling that something is missing.

When people pass away, the holidays can make their absence worse. Whether it’s decorating a tree, going Christmas shopping or even the actual day itself, missing a loved one takes a toll on the heart that nothing else does. 

I’ve lost significant people in my life throughout the past five years. And it doesn’t get much easier. Around the holidays, I notice their presence missing even more than I do throughout the year. It makes the holidays harder to enjoy while my mind, no matter how hard I try to stop it, is dwelling on the absence of these people. 

While these people may be gone from our lives, it doesn’t mean they are gone from our hearts. Though it sounds cliche, it’s the truth. Some memories of these loved ones can hurt to remember, but it helps them feel like they are still with us. I know that keeping mementos about these people around me yearly, but moreso during the holidays, helps in keeping them alive.

For others, the holidays mean spending time with family members who may not be the best people. In my family, we have a lot of judgement that swirls around the dinner table. This person should stop doing this, this person needs to start doing this, did you hear what they did and many more. If someone isn’t the cookie cutter mold that the others think they should be, it’s easy for the holidays to bring you down.

When it comes to being around difficult family members, it can be easy to have the feelings to the extreme. The best way is to keep true to yourself during these gatherings, is to not let the opinions of family members get you down. They may think they know what’s best for you, but they are not you. They don’t know your thought process or the feelings you’re going through. Just be true to yourself around them and they may just come around.

I know one thing for me around the holidays is the fact that everyone seems to be in a happier spirit than when they aren’t home. Living in Indiana, everyone seems to be going home for the holidays, and it can feel like you’re stuck here by yourself. It makes missing people 10 times harder, and while we have texting and calling as a way to still reach our friends, it isn’t the same as seeing them in person or hanging out with them, making you feel alone. 

Subconsciously, you know these people will return after the break and “life” will resume as normal. But living in a college town when close friends leave opens up feelings of loneliness and depression, especially if the friend is graduating and possibly not coming back. 

Remember, it’s easier to keep in contact with friends and those who live far away now than when our parents were in college. Now we have social media, texting, calling and even emailing when we’re missing our friends. Sure, we all have our own lives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep up-to-date with each others’ lives over break. 

Personally, I hate breaks when everyone goes home. I try to keep in contact with as many people as I can, but I also make a to-do list for throughout the break. When the semester is happening, I don’t have a lot of time for things I usually enjoy or need to get done. 

I’ve been wanting to rearrange my bedroom for months, as well as get back into painting and writing. However, it’s been difficult with the semester, two jobs and new work schedules, as well as making sure everything is done for classes when it was needed. I didn’t have the time to complete everything I wanted to. Now with the break, it’ll be easier to find time to do things.

I find keeping busy during the holidays also helps combat with depression and the “something’s missing” feeling. It can be hard to even want to keep busy, but powering through the feeling of wanting to do nothing will help keep the winter blues away. I have a half-page of to-do items and am actually looking forward to doing them. 

Even though seasonal depression can be hard to combat and can even cause feelings of loneliness, anxiety and added stress, try to enjoy the days as much as possible. It is a break from the academic stress, and, while you may view it as just another time of heightened depression, it will pass.

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