Aren't the holidays supposed to be joyful? And not just Christmas and New Year's, but birthdays and the 4th of July are supposed to be happy times too. Well they aren't for everyone, so if you're saying, "I'm depressed - What do I do?" this time of the year, then you're far from alone.
Holidays just aren't enjoyable for everyone. In fact, it's not unusual at all to actually feel down, and even have the thought that "maybe I'm depressed." Despite all of the opportunities to be around others (family, friends, coworkers) and celebrating, they can be one of the loneliest times of the year for many of us. This is one of the biggest reasons people will say, "I hate the holidays."
Feeling Depressed Is Common
If you're already not feeling good about something in your life, then this time of year can make it even worse. When everyone else looks so happy and you're not, or others expect you to be happy and you're not, it only compounds how bad you're feeling and can make you feel even more down. For people who are newly separated or divorced the holidays are a time of huge change and adjustment to a new way of life; they can be miserable if you're thinking about ending a relationship, but haven't done it yet; if you want to be with someone else, but aren't, they can be downright painful.
3 Ways We Make Ourselves DepressedSo if I'm depressed, what can I do about it? There are habits many of us have that don't help. Here are 3 of them to think about how much you may be doing:
1. Focusing on what you don't have. This can be a tough at certain times of the year, like at Christmas or our birthday, when we get asked what we want. The honest answer for many of us of what we truly want is one we don't want to say and know no one can really give to us.
- For a guy I am counseling right now what he wants more than anything is his family back.
- A women in counseling with me wants some honest answers about why her husband no longer loves her.
- Another person wants to be in a relationship with someone who really loves them. Not someone who just says it now and then, but who shows it every day.
It's really easy to have our focus on what we want, but don't have. It doesn't matter if it's a different job, happier relationship, where we're at in life, or what. When we make our focus what we don't have, we fuel our discontent and bring ourselves down. If "I'm depressed. What do I do?" Focus on being grateful for what you have, not unhappy about what you don't.
2. Comparing your life to the lives of others. This is particularly hard not to do around Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially if you don't have the love or family life that you want. At this time of year it can seem like everyone else is happy, but me. It can seem that everyone else is in a loving relationship, but me. It can appear that everyone else has family to spend time with, but me. Comparing ourselves to others is not good for us, because like focusing it breeds discontent. Comparing also creates false realities. We want to believe other people are as happy as they appear or we think they are, but we don't really know. It causes to believe an idealistic reality that we've created in our minds is possible when it very likely isn't. So if "I'm depressed. What can I do about it?" Stop comparing your life to others'.
3. Expectations are one of the biggest traps for feeling depressed. Take a look at your expectations. Unrealistic, impractical, or impossible expectations can cause us to feel down, depressed, and hopeless.
- She should take my breath away (after being married 11 years and having 3 kids).
- I should have been married by the time I was 30.
- I can make my husband love me like I want him to if I just try hard enough.
"I'm feeling depressed. Is there anything I can do?" Yes, make sure your expectations are appropriate.
Think for a minute about how the media and advertising encourages, and even promotes, our doing these 3 habits - focusing on what we don't have, comparing what we have to what others' have, and have expectations that fuel the desire for more than we have. Getting us to do this is how they get readers, viewers, and customers. But it only creates unhappiness for us.
If You're Depressed
Feeling down has a lot to do with our thinking and choices. If you say, "I'm depressed," then asking, "what can I do about it?" is a good place to start. Take a few minutes to consider how each of these 3 habits could apply to you.
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