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Holidays are a special time of year for many reasons. For some people however the Holiday season is a time when depression hits hardest. This may be the result of anxiety, stress or increased responsibility. For many the primary cause of depression is loneliness. Here are 6 tips to help you during the holiday season.

1. Connect. Call over friends. One will do fine, because the goal is for you to have supportive, non-judgemental support. Talk to your neighbour. You’ll be surprised that a neighbour can become a close friend. Even pets stave off loneliness. If depression starts feeling severe, seek professional support.

2. No Shame. We’re scared of what people will think about us. Stigma keeps us from talking with others about what hurts. Don’t be embarrassed. Depression isn’t just a mental disease, it’s a whole body illness like cancer. Depression affects 1 in 4 so chances are someone you know also suffers with depression.

3. Expect the Bad, Accept the Good. Expect bad emotional days. Accept any day or moment that’s good. If you usually cry every morning or don’t feel like getting up, accept that’s how you’ll be during the holidays. But don’t expect that’s how the rest of the day will go. Life can feel good so enjoy those moments and let yourself feel happy.

4. Avoid Family Drama. People don’t change who they are overnight. Nor will they suddenly love you or want to be your friend. Family drama only diminishes your self-esteem, isolates you, and leaves you feeling more alone than before. Be realistic and know that others are bringing personal baggage to the party.

5. You First. Need alone time? Take it! Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself first. Give yourself permission to feel miserable or to cry. Accept practical help when offered. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Let others lift some of the load off your shoulders.

6. Grieve. Grief shouldn’t be hidden. Discuss with others the triggers that upset you or conversations that offend you. Let them know its okay to say the name of the deceased. Honour your loved one by doing things you did together or set an extra seat at the table.

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