Holidays can be a lonely time for some. If you find yourself alone during the holidays this year, there are a lot of creative ways to overcome feelings of isolation.
People end up alone during the holidays for a variety of reasons. Some live far away from family or have jobs that require they work the holiday. Those who are grieving sometimes choose to spend the day alone. Others have dysfunctional families that can turn a happy holiday into a depressing day of drama that they would rather avoid. No matter the time of year or season, develop life skills to avoid and overcome loneliness, because research shows it can have adverse effects on health.
If you find yourself alone and without holiday plans and wish to celebrate, take action. Plan now and create action steps. Doing so can help you avoid “depression triggers” that can throw you into a rut. Grab a calendar and plan concrete steps in writing that you will take when the holiday period arrives. Will you open your home to other single friends? Will you seek volunteer opportunities nearby? What about helping feed the homeless or perhaps singing carols at a nursing home? These activities are tried-and-true intervention steps others have used to overcome loneliness and experience gratitude.
Check the newspaper, and begin your to-do list of events, special “me-time” treats, day trips, and new and unusual ways to fill the days. Look to your community for creative opportunities, such as spending the day with military members stationed in your town or baking cookies and taking them to your city’s first responders. A quick way to find ideas to alleviate loneliness is to search online “alone during the holidays.” It’s nearly guaranteed that you will find ideas appropriate for your situation.
Social media can contribute to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression, especially during the holidays. Consider limiting your time online. At the very least, remain aware of its potential to show you an unrealistic view of life—friends usually post only the good.
The secret to lifting your spirit is engagement with others. Enjoy the holidays whether you are with others or alone. However, be sure you experience daily interactions with people to safeguard your health during the holiday season and throughout the year. You will feel more uplifted, experience less negative self-talk, and have accomplishments you will look back on with fond memories.
Excerpted from WorkExcel.com
Depression in teens has become extremely common. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, research indicates that roughly 3 million adolescents ranging from ages 12 to 17 have experienced at least one major depressive episode within the past year. Teen depression is a mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. It can affect how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can even cause emotional, functional, and physical problems.
Issues such as peer pressure, academic expectations, and changing bodies will inevitably bring ups and downs. Yet, for some teens, the lows are more than just a fleeting emotional state. Depression in teens isn’t a weakness or something that can be overcome with willpower and “tough love.” Serious cases can require long-term medical treatment and threaten dire consequences. However, for most teens that are beginning to chronically “feel low,” depressive symptoms can greatly improve with the help of weekly therapeutic counseling.
For parents attempting to approach the challenging and delicate task of raising a teen who struggles with depression, it can be helpful to keep these six guide rules in mind:
•Be Genuine – Engage in “real talk” with your teen, both about struggles and ambitions.
•Give Space – Teens need space to grow and gain independence from parents.
•Be Curious – Pay attention and show interest in your teen’s life and inner workings.
•Reserve Judgement – Don’t show anger first, display compassion and concern instead.
•Don’t Delay – If you think your teen might need help, talk with a counselor soon.
•Family Effort – Depression can’t be cured on an island. Familial support is a must.
If your teen is exhibiting signs of depression, contact the EAP for further assistance.
by Drew Thomas, MACP, CMHS, LMHC