Not everyone finds a moment of reprieve in the holidays.
For many, the season puts increased strain on mental health, either due to trying family dynamics, a perceived pressure to feel joy, financial strains, or any other number of challenging aspects. This can be especially true of Thanksgiving, which is a holiday acutely focused on the celebration of gratitude. There is no easy cure for depression that may arise as a result of the holidays but—at least in some cases—leaning into it may be the best way to get out of it!
5 Ways a Gratitude Practice May Help with Depression
1. Stay Connected
While depression often drives people into social isolation, study after study has shown that this only exacerbates symptoms. The holidays offer an easy chance to stay connected, as social gatherings are often programmed into daily life. Instead of shying away from these opportunities, take advantage of the easy chance to see people (even if it feels hard). Don’t arrive with any expectation of them or yourself; simply focus on showing up.
2. Go Through the Motions
Gratitude is an act as much as it is an idea. As you celebrate the holidays, make it a point to perform acts of gratitude. Say “thank you,” share smiles, write letters of gratitude, and show your thankfulness by pitching in where you can. By going through grateful motions, you trigger emotions of gratitude which, in turn, provide relief.
3. Write Down Your Ingratitude
A gratitude list may help with holiday depression, but even more helpful may be a list of things you are ungrateful for. Doing so assists in uncluttering your life of items that provoke negative feelings, and distinguishing those items that are simply no longer of interest. Do you really hate your collection of books, or have you just lost interest in reading? Give away those things that make you feel bad, and allow the others to simply sit in your periphery.
4. Thank Your Body
Holiday depression, like all mental health struggles, can manifest physically as bodily pain, digestive issues, nausea, and so forth. While parts of your body may be in discomfort, others are holding strong. Thanking these parts for their work will draw attention away from your physical and mental pain. Speak your gratitude aloud, and gain the added benefit of sharpening your mind’s practice of giving thanks.
5. Lean into Kindness
The holidays often provoke extra acts of unsolicited kindness. Savor these like you would a special treat. Among depression’s most damaging aspects is the self-deprecation it elicits. Chip away at this by noticing when people are kind to you, or recalling when they have been in the past. Give thanks for such moments, and allow your recollection of them to help break destructive thought cycles.
Each of these steps may play a part in making the holidays more palatable, but none replace a robust treatment plan. Many who struggle with mental health find no relief from standard treatments for depression. Those who belong to this category may suffer from treatment-resistant depression (TRD)—a debilitating affliction that leaves many feeling hopeless all year round.
Ketamine treatment is a breakthrough therapy that has shown remarkable effectiveness in relieving TRD, as well as other chronic, difficult-to-treat mental and physical health issues.
To learn more about ketamine treatment, and to determine whether it may be right for you, do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation at Vitalitas Denver—a mental health treatment with a full suite of medical staff specializing in this breakthrough new therapy.