Much of the planning, shopping, and cooking is done by women, so they carry the greater burden in preparing for family gatherings. Women are at greater risk for depression than men. They’re twice as likely to experience depression. After heart disease, depression is the most debilitating illness for women, while it’s tenth for men. To read more on this, see Depression in Women.
Some measures you can take to cope with the holiday blues include:
• Make plans in advance, so you know how and with whom your holidays will be spent. Uncertainty and putting off decision-making add enormous stress.
• Shop early and allow time to wrap and mail packages to avoid the shopping crunch.
• Ask for help from your family and children. Women tend to think they have to do everything, when a team effort can be more fun.
• Shame prevents people from being open about gift-giving when they can’t afford it. Instead of struggling to buy a gift, let your loved ones know how much you care and would like to, but can’t afford it. That intimate moment will relieve your stress and nourish you both.

• Don’t allow perfectionism to wear you down. Remember it’s being together and goodwill that matters.
• Make time to rest and rejuvenate even amidst the pressure of getting things done. This will give you more energy.
• Spend time alone to reflect and grieve, if necessary. Pushing down feelings leads to depression. Let yourself feel. Then do something nice for yourself and socialize.
• Don’t isolate. Reach out to others who also may be lonely. If you don’t have someone to be with, volunteer to help those in need. It can be very uplifting and gratifying.
The signs of depression are feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and/or guilt, crying, loss of interest in usual activities, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, social withdrawal, and changes in sleep, weight, or appetite. If these symptoms are severe or continue for a few weeks, more than the holidays may be the cause. Seek professional help.
©Darlene Lancer, MFT 2011

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