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7 Things I Plan to Do If I Have to Spend Christmas Alone With Depression

As the clock ticks down on Christmas, my prospects of spending it alone this year are looking pretty good.

No, I’m not asking for sympathy or throwing a pity party. I know nothing positive comes from dwelling in negative head space.

Now, more than ever, is the time for self-care. This is especially true for people experiencing a deep, dark depression. Please do not give up in despair. You are not alone. I promise.

Without going into too many details, I will say I am going through some painful, personal trials that someday I’ll be able to write about when I’m less raw. But for now, surviving the holidays is the next task at hand.

The holidays are a tough time for many people. Here are seven things I plan to do to ease the burdens I’m carrying around on my shoulders:

1. Pay attention to the body

With a certain amount of predictability, I can tell you when I’m about to spiral out of control. I can’t focus on anything. I start to pace. I obsess. I can’t see past the current moment in time. I am angry. Those are signs – both physical and mental that something isn’t right.

I also know those feelings pass if I just acknowledge the cues and move through the feelings without overreacting or giving into them. I’m able to pat myself on the back later after realizing I got through a tough moment by focusing attention on something else.

Through self-care, you can learn what stresses you, how to deal with those stresses, and strategies on creating more balance in life. Write down real-life situations and your automatic responses to them. Also write down what you might reasonably conclude to the problem, other than your initial reaction. You’ll find there is probably more than one way to deal with a problem.

2. Netflix and chill

I don’t have a million activities planned for Christmas. If I get up early, I won’t stress. If I sleep in, that’s fine, too. The main extent of my plans include ordering take-out during the day and watching Netflix.

3. Go outside

I also plan to take my dog out for a long run because I know it will be good for both of us. Breathing in fresh air is not overrated. Looking around, outside your own physical body, and inhaling deeply leaves a permanent impression on your soul. It’s just taking that first step out the door.

4. Do something nice

I will drop by my neighbor’s house just to say “hi” and “Merry Christmas.” I have neighbors on both sides of me, both of whom are nice people, probably experiencing their own woes. They have reached out to me when I needed it most. The least I can do is place a card in their mailboxes or knock on the door to show appreciation.

5. Reach out to people

I know how hard it is to talk to other human beings when you’re in a pit of despair. But connecting to at least one other person on Christmas can help keep you centered. It’s even better if you have a support system of family and friends. Unfortunately, not everyone has that network.

Volunteering at a local shelter or donating to a toy drive are also small gestures that go a long way in comforting.

6. Write it down

Can you find at least one thing to be grateful for throughout the day? Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that you’re still breathing and that you got out of bed. Searching for the good in today when depression tells you there is nothing, is a practice that takes courage. I can do it. You can do it, too.

7. Don’t numb out

Feel your feelings. Alcohol and drugs are just a mask for the pain that’s really going on inside. Choosing to drown my sorrows in alcohol is not a solution, as tempting as it might be. As you head into a new year, now might be the time to determine if you need inpatient or outpatient treatment, or therapy, or to leave a toxic situation.

I don’t fully understand the challenges life has thrown my way, but I’m trying and learning to trust the journey. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try not to overthink the day. Take good care of yourself. I will do the same.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Thinkstock photo by jakkapan21