Managing Holiday Depression Away From Home

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Are you traveling for the holidays? Ready for all the family gatherings, old friends, Mom’s cake, the white and drifting snow? It may depend on what happens to your mood when holidays approach. In fact, if you get depressed around the holidays, travel can seem more like a nightmare than a vacation. Here is what experts have to say about traveling with holiday depression.

Traveling With Depression: What to Expect

Travel, according to Philip Muskin, MD, can affect people in different ways. Muskin is a professor of clinical depression to make that phrase a mantra. “There are going to be circumstances out of your control,” she says. “But you prepare yourself to say, ‘Whatever I can control, I’m going to control.'” If you are depressed or have the blues, Grusd tells WebMD, you tend to feel like you have no power over things when you become frustrated. She says, though, that you can choose to evaluate the situation as a challenge. Then you can let yourself enjoy the challenge rather than feeling like a victim.

How does that actually work when you travel? “In a long line at the airport,” Grusd says, “you can talk to the person behind you or in front of you and get to know someone. You can tell yourself you don’t need to be in a rush. The purpose of a vacation is to slow down and enjoy. If there’s a delay at the airport, you can look at it as time to read a book. That way you stay in control instead of feeling the vacation’s controlling you.”

Travelling With Depression: Setting Goals

Muskin recommends setting goals for your vacation. “Start by thinking about the pleasures you are going to have on the trip. And then Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. “A lot of us don’t realize we are overtired or over sleep, it can play havoc with your mood. It’s important to keep track of how much you drink, says Grusd, and to not drink in excess. The holidays are also a particularly bad time for people who are recovering from an alcohol addiction.

“I tell anyone who is just recently sober,” Rodino says, “to skip the parties.”

Treat yourself nicely — exercise. “Vacation is a time to be nice to yourself,” Muskin says, “an opportunity to take care of yourself a little better. For some, that means they’re going to eat steak or have an extra beer. That’s good, and they should do it. But taking care of yourself a little better also means getting up in the morning and going for a run.”

When you treat yourself well physically, Rodino points out, you also are taking care of some important emotional needs. “Some people really need their daily walk,” she says. “It’s literally an antidepressant.”