Memphis is known far and wide as the Home of the Blues … Blues music, that is.
You can stroll down Beale Street any night of the week and hear the rich history and tradition of this genre of music wafting out of open club doors onto the street. This time of the year, however, brings about another type of the blues, blues and depression as the holidays approach.
Here are the top 10 Dos and Don’ts for getting through the holiday season with less stress, as well as ways to stave off the holiday blues for yourself and your loved ones.
1. Don’t overbook yourself to parties, events, volunteer work, or other holiday-related activities because exhaustion makes people irritable and depressed.
2. Do set your priorities and stick to them.
3. Do organize your time. Still, staying busy during the holidays will not automatically take away feelings of aloneness, sadness, frustration, anger, and fear but studies show being organized and sticking to your plan helps.
4. Do give up past resentments to holidays. Don’t rehash or tell friends and family every resentment on your laundry list of grievances. Over-sharing is a bummer for everyone. And don’t allow friends and family to do that to you, either. If you need help with unburdening yourself of your resentments and other issues you cannot get over, seek professional help in a licensed clinical social worker and/or a psychiatrist who can help you with ways to give up resentments.
5. Do stay busy … but not overbooked. If you don’t have enough to do, find things to do. Time on your hands gives you time to think about things that cause sadness and depression during the holidays. So, volunteer at a homeless shelter such as the Memphis Mission or at a children’s hospital such as St. Jude or LeBonheur. The added bonus is that doing community service has proven, studies show, to help reduce holiday depression if it is situational, and not clinical depression.
6. Don’t expect the holidays to be just as they were when you were a child. They NEVER are. YOU are not the same person you were as a child, and none of your friends and family are either.
7. Don’t drink to excess. The holidays can become a reason for over-indulging and with that comes health issues, the biggest of the next day being a hangover. This exacerbates depression because alcohol is a depressant. “People with depression shouldn’t drink alcohol,” says Sherry Rogers, MD, in her book, Depression.
8. Do find low-cost, fun holiday activities to do because over-spending during the holidays can cause anxiety and depression. Some low-cost things to do include window-shopping, driving around and looking at people’s Christmas lighting on their homes, taking a trip to the countryside, or attending your city’s holiday parades, which are usually free. In Memphis, an inexpensive event is the Shelby Farms Park Starry Nights. Click here for details on this and other events at the park.
9. Do treat yourself. Take time for yourself to do the things YOU love and need to do for your physical and mental wellness. Also, make sure you get exercise for the mind and body in aerobic activity, yoga, massage, and spiritual practice or any activity that calms you down and gives you a better perspective on what is important in your life.
10. Do get professional help if you feel you cannot get a handle on your holiday blues, especially if you feel it’s more than just the holidays giving you the blues.
While we do not treat clinical depression issues at AFC/Doctors Express in Memphis, we do treat many of the medical conditions of the holiday season: colds, flu, physical exhaustion, and slip and fall injuries and much more. And if you need emotional help with what you think may be depression and sadness, start with your primary care doctor who can refer you to a specialist or get in contact with the Memphis Crisis Center by clicking here.