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Xmas Fear

How to Deal with Christmas Depression

Mental Health

In Partnership with

LAB Series

Sometimes you can't help but be in a bad state over the holiday period. Here, mental health campaigner Rich Taylor describes his own experiences and recommends some advice on how to help you through it.

I remember being around 8 years old, or something in that age bracket, and walking up the stairs of my aunt and uncle’s house in Surrey. It was the Christmas of the new millennium, and there was a fluffy toy snowman on the window sill halfway up the stairs. If you pressed down on the mitten it wore, the snowman did a little jig and played a whimsical tune, ushering in Christmas and the new year. I remember being utterly transfixed by this snowman, and it made me so joyously happy that I eventually had to be distracted with something else because it was annoying the rest of the family.

Twenty years later, I can only dream of being as happy as when that snowman used to dance and sing to me. In the two decades that have passed since then, quite a lot has happened in my life, some things unique to me, some not, that makes Christmas difficult to navigate when you’ve got the old black dog of depression traipsing around next to you.

You see, depression creates within you the antithesis of how you’re expected to feel when this time of year rolls around. Everyone is laughing, drinking in pubs with steamed windows, seemingly having a whale of a time. And all you want to do is hunker down under the duvet and wait ’til it all blows over.

So what can you do to get yourself through this oh-so festive season of merriment? Well, lots of different things, come to think of it. And it all starts with acceptance. Now, I’m not saying give in to the depression, but accepting that it might stick around is the first hurdle you need to jump over. Everything else will be a little more bearable if you can do this, and one way to make it easier is to share your feelings with someone you love and/or trust.

The next thing to do if you’re struggling to shift the ten tonne quilt is honour the commitments you make (but adjust them if you need to). So if you arranged to head to a mate’s for board games and beers but that feels like too much to handle, invite them round to yours so you can stay in your slippers and Rocky dressing gown. Or lay off the booze and ask your mates to bring round a crate of Heineken Blue (other low/non-alcoholic beverages are available). That way, you’ll still be able to see friends and join in without the hassle of leaving the comfort of home.

In stark contradiction to the above advice, getting out into the crisp winter air has remarkable benefits, especially if you’re feeling particularly glum. It’s a perfect opportunity to chuck on those walking boots that have been stuck in the cupboard under the stairs all year and head out into the country. Getting away from the city, or getting further out into the countryside, is a great way to remove ourselves from the hectic, materialistic nature of Christmas. Forests, country walks, country pubs with real fireplaces; all of these things are never too far from reach and will definitely give you a much needed boost.

The nature of ‘self-care’ is a hot topic at the moment, with a lot to be said for companies and organisations capitalising on the space. However, I’m sure that fellow Book of Man writer, Anouszka, would agree with me when I say that there’s one sure fire way to banish the blues; masturbation. Getting in touch with yourself, quite literally, can help improve your mood in myriad ways and for a multitude of reasons. Principally, it feels bloody amazing (most of the time), it’s free and you can do it almost anywhere (within reason – don’t get arrested). 

I know that at one time or another, a combination of the above tips and tricks have helped lift me out of a depressive slump. And, as easy as it is to say, sometimes it’s the simple act of going against whatever your depression wants you to do that works best.

Christmas is an opportune time to strive towards a better relationship with yourself and with your depression. Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix, and the stress and pressure of this time of year can often make you feel like you’re walking through treacle. But please push on, keep talking about what’s going on in your head and try to accept the emotions as these are all tools you can use to give yourself a break this Christmas.

If you’re really struggling, please reach out to a friend or loved one. The worst thing is feeling like you’re all alone, even if you’re in a crowded room (trust me, I know how this feels). Charities like Samaritans and CALM operate helplines that provide respite, a judgement-free listening ear and a friendly voice when you need it most.

You can reach Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 and you can contact CALM between 5 pm and midnight on 0800 58 58 58.

Follow Rich on Twitter. 

Self Care Skincare

Part of our Self-Care Christmas guide in partnership with Lab Series Skincare for Men.

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