Traveling With Depression: After You Arrive
A lot of things can cause a blue mood to get worse once you arrive at your destination. Here are some tips for helping to keep the blues at bay:
Give yourself permission to say no. Grusd agrees and says, "The problem is we agree to everything, because we want to please. But that can mean disaster." She recommends regularly self-monitoring your mood by using the word HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. "A lot of us don't realize we are overtired or over hungry and so we agree to everything," Grusd says. "Once you're aware, you can say, 'I'm a little tired right now,' or, 'I'm exhausted. I'm going to go lie down.' Or, 'I'm going to skip this activity.'" That way, you can choose the things you want to do and pass on the things you don't.
Practice behavioral activation. Getting up and going for a walk is one way to activate yourself. So is listening to music or looking at pictures of things you are going to see and do. Sharing jokes from a book you brought along so everyone laughs can lift your mood.
Focus on the now. Holidays are traditionally times for families to come together -- and when that happens, old rivalries and hurts can flare up. Your mother may have been a horrible parent, but now isn't the time to tell her. "You can say to yourself, 'The mother I had 40 years ago isn't the same woman who is here today,'" Muskin says. "So focus on the woman who is here. Or maybe your brother is richer than God and doesn't mind letting everyone know. But the fact is he is isn't taking anything away from you. It's an opportunity to live in the here and now."
Practice self-restraint. During the holidays, you're surrounded by food -- and not just any food, says Muskin. "And it's great food. It's Mom's cake," he says. "One way to deal with that is to tell yourself you are going to have some of Mom's cake. But then tell yourself you're not going to have it at every meal." If you don't normally eat dessert at lunch, don't let yourself eat it at lunch while you're away. That way, he says, you get to enjoy Mom's cake, but you also get to feel good about your sense of control.
Alcohol is another problem during the holidays, especially when there are a lot of parties. Alcohol not only interferes with 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.