The saddest time for sad people: Dealing with the holiday blues | City Press

It’s important to recognize that it’s okay to be sad during the holidays, even when others seem to experience joy and excitement.


With the holiday season in full swing, TV and radio commercials are full of festive shopping bargains, thoughtful gift ideas for your loved ones and mouth-watering Christmas recipes to get you in the mood.

The holiday season is also a time when many take a break from work and the daily hustle and bustle of life to travel to distant parts of the country and spend more time with family, relatives and friends.

READ: Stigma and discrimination drive rise in SA’s poor mental health cases

But this time of year can also be a difficult and lonely time for most South Africans who struggle with anxiety and depression. Increased stress on social gatherings, financial pressures and unrealistic expectations can exacerbate existing symptoms of depression.

According to IN Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), suicides at this time of year are on the rise due to feelings of isolation, loneliness and increased stress felt by people struggling with depression.

Tips for dealing with depression during the holidays

Clinical psychologist Dr Khosi Jiyane spoke to City Press about some tips that people dealing with depression and anxiety can follow to make the festive season more bearable and ultimately recover from their current situation.

Jiyane encourages families and friends during the December holidays to recognize the symptoms of depression, such as sudden changes in a loved one’s behavior and expressing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting their loved one. self

READ: Medical practices worried about rising mental illness claims

While many people who struggle with anxiety and depression during the holidays are often told to ‘get over it,’ she says it’s important to recognize that mental health concerns are serious matters that require professional support and intervention .

Jiyane explained:

With suicidal ideation, they will usually say something, but it starts with their own thoughts, and they will generally say it one way or another. When that happens, it’s important to the people they talk to about suicidal thoughts, how they react.

“And it can escalate from ideation to actual plans. Not just thinking about suicide but making actual plans to kill yourself,” she added.

READ: How to take care of your mental health

Jiyane says the opposite can happen for some people who struggle with symptoms of depression. He said while others talk to friends and loved ones about having suicidal thoughts, others withdraw and isolate themselves during the holidays, and it’s important to watch out.

He says:

On the one hand, they can express themselves, and on the other hand, they can also withdraw. So, what you’re looking for is a noticeable difference in character and behavior from how you normally know them to act.

On a more personal level, Jiyane gives five tips for people suffering from depression this holiday season. She encourages them to seek professional help and to confide in people they feel safe talking about their mental well-being.

Jiyane said:

When we talk about depression, it is about our experienced stresses. What we hold onto is the hope that this will pass. But when it gets to the point where they can’t see the end, they lose hope, and they tear up in despair, thinking it’s going nowhere.

Here are five tips for dealing with the holiday season blues:

  1. Acknowledge and accept your feelings: It’s important to accept that it’s okay to be sad during the holidays, even when others seem to experience joy and excitement. Accepting your feelings without judgment can help reduce self-criticism and foster self-compassion.
  2. Self-care comes first: Participate in activities that improve your overall well-being, such as engaging in physical exercise, practicing meditation, or immersing yourself in nature. Also, make it a priority to make sure you get enough sleep and follow a balanced diet to maintain physical and emotional health.
  3. Set realistic expectations: Recognize that social gatherings and celebrations can present challenges. Establish realistic expectations for yourself and don’t feel pressured to participate in every event.
  4. State your needs: Be transparent in your conversations with family and friends about your challenges with depression. Clearly state your need for alone time or identify specific activities that may feel overwhelming to you.
  5. Request support: If your symptoms of depression worsen, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists and counselors are equipped to offer valuable support and provide effective coping strategies.

Remember, you are not alone in dealing with depression during the holiday season. For professional help, contact Sadag’s 24-hour toll-free suicide crisis helpline on 0800 567 567 or visit their website for more information.

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