How to Battle Depression Around the Holidays

November 23, 2020

how to battle depression during the holidays

While the holiday season may bring happy memories and cheer for some people, the feelings of unrealistic expectations, financial pressures and anxiety during winter months - and a pandemic - can heighten stress or depression for many. According to a survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, fatigue, stress and irritability were the top three negative emotions felt during the holiday season. Below we share some ways to battle depression around the holidays: 


Take Care of Yourself
One of the reasons depression can flair up during this time is because we do not take care of ourselves. Although the holiday season is quite busy, it is important to keep your health in mind and take proactive steps to put yourself first. Building in downtime and daily exercise is key, as is maintaining a healthy diet when possible. Drink lots of water and for adults, keep alcohol consumption in moderation. Excessive drinking is one of the triggers for depression


Set Realistic Expectations
Many people want the holidays to be perfect. Unfortunately, life does not always go as planned. Expect the unexpected and reset your expectations.  If you already know that family gatherings can be stressful, recognize it is not your job to make sure everyone gets along and is happy. Be grateful for the time you get to spend with loved ones and focus on the positive aspects of your relationships.


Pace Yourself
With so much going on during the holiday season, it sometimes feels like you have to say yes to every invitation or event, personal or related to work. Don't feel guilty for turning down invitiations if you feel the situation is unsafe or risks your health. Try not to overextend yourself and set realistic goals on what you can take on. Remember to get plenty of sleep, because sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health


Reach Out for Help

  • The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Division has launched a free-of-charge emotional support text line, Call4Calm, for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19. Individuals who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0, or for Spanish, “HABLAR” to the same number: 5-5-2-0-2-0.


Call4Calm is free to use, and individuals will remain anonymous. Once a resident sends a text to the hotline, within 24 hours they will receive a call from a counselor employed by a local community mental health center to provide support. Individuals can also text 5-5-2-0-2-0, with key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” and will receive information on how navigate and access supports and services.


  • SAMHSA’s national Disaster Distress Helpline is available to anyone experiencing emotional distress related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Call 1.800.985.5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to speak to a caring counselor.


  • Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call 1.800.273.8255 for 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
    • If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or experience hearing loss, call 1.800.799.4889.
    • If you need to speak to a Spanish-speaking counselor, call 1.888.628.9454.


Access Community Health Network
If you are suffering from depression around the holidays, ACCESS is here for you. We offer behavioral health services to help treat depression, anxiety and other conditions. If you have any questions or just want to talk, call us at 1.866.267.2353 or schedule an appointment here today.