The holiday season is a time of joy and cheer, but for some it can be an especially tough period. The holiday season can be an especially trying time for parents struggling with seasonal depression. Seasonal depression affects many individuals, making the holidays a source of worry rather than celebration. But even those struggling with seasonal depression can still experience the joy that comes from parenthood at this time of year. While parenting during the holidays with seasonal depression can be difficult, it’s possible to make it manageable by focusing on what really matters in life: family and loved ones.
During this time, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and lonely; however, the holidays don’t have to be a source of stress or despair. With a few simple steps, parents can take back control of their lives and make the most out of the holiday season. Our biggest advice, is when you’re feeling the pressure, release it. Istead of putting pressure on yourself to create perfect experiences or buy expensive gifts, try to focus on creating meaningful memories and doing activities together as a family. That could include baking cookies together, watching classic holiday movies or taking a nature walk with your children in search of winter beauty. Start by taking care of yourself. Being a parent can already be overwhelming enough without adding seasonal depression into the mix; so make sure you prioritize your own mental health and well-being first and foremost. Try participating in activities that make you feel good — exercise, spend time outdoors, engage in deep breathing exercises — whatever works best for you to help manage your symptoms.
On the other hand, if your child is struggling, know that it’s natural for children to experience the holiday blues, especially if they are missing loved ones or feeling overwhelmed by the holiday season. It’s natural for children to feel a range of emotions during the holidays, including excitement, joy, and possibly sadness or disappointment. Here are some tips for helping your children cope with the holiday blues:
- Encourage open communication: Encourage your children to share their feelings with you. Let them know that it’s okay to feel sad or overwhelmed during the holidays and that you are there to support them. If you are also struggling, it’s okay to be honest with them to share your own feelings. When they share these feelings, validate their feelings and what they are sharing with you. It’s important to let children know that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions, including sadness or disappointment. Help them express their feelings and validate them by saying things like, “I can see that you’re feeling sad right now. It’s okay to feel that way.” Also checking in with them, asking them what they need at this time.
- Offer comfort and support: Offer hugs, cuddles, and other forms of physical comfort to your children. You can also spend quality time together, such as reading a book or watching a movie. Children may not be able to find their own coping strategies. It’s helpful for caregivers to help them find ways to cope. There are many ways children can cope with their emotions, such as by writing in a journal, drawing, or talking to a trusted friend or family member. Encourage children to find healthy ways to express and cope with their emotions by engaging in activities that bring them joy, such as drawing, writing, or spending time with friends.
- Keep things simple: The holidays can be a busy and hectic time, so try to keep things as simple as possible. Avoid overscheduling and allow your children to have some downtime to rest and recharge.
- Create new traditions: If your children are missing loved ones or feeling disconnected from holiday traditions, consider creating new traditions together. This can help them feel more connected and give them something to look forward to.
- Seek professional help: If your children’s holiday blues persist or become severe, it may be helpful to seek the help of a mental health professional. They can provide additional support and guidance to help your children cope with their feelings.
It’s important to remember that it’s normal to have a range of emotions during the holiday season, and it’s okay to take time to process and cope with these feelings. By being supportive and understanding, you can help your child navigate the holiday blues and find ways to cope. It’s also equally important to give yourself grace, in knowing that you too, might be struggling and to give yourself permission to focus on yourself. Take breaks from holiday stress, to prioritize your own well-being and take breaks from the holiday hustle and bustle when needed. Consider setting boundaries with family and friends and taking time for yourself to relax and recharge. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help and that seeking treatment is a sign of strength. By taking care of yourself, you can better support your family and enjoy the holiday season.