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In the Raw: 6 tips to overcome depression after the holidays

‘Tis the season to be jolly … except no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t seem to get cheerful. You made it through the holidays, but your depression hasn’t gone away. Better yet, you feel even more tired, lonely and hopeless.

Holiday music often sends this message that the season is full of happy times. But as a therapist, I see a different side of the holidays that the music doesn’t share. Holiday music doesn’t share how horribly painful it is for many people: It could be from relationships on the rocks to lonely nights, from deep sadness to money problems.

No matter the reason, people can get caught in deep depressions that last long after the holidays pass.

Here are a few tips on how beat your depression:

1.Fake it ‘til you make it: Put a smile on your face, speak positive, and hang out with friends no matter how bad you hurt. Research shows that the smiles will improve how we feel inside by lowering your heart rate and decreasing stress (University of Kansas study published in Psychological Science).

2.Avoid alcohol: It can be tempting to numb your pain, but it only lasts a few hours. The truth is alcohol is a depressant: the more you drink to feel better for a few hours, the worse it hurts you emotionally in the long run. Lay off the alcohol.

3.30-minutes of daily exercise: You need all the positivity right now and working out releases “happy chemicals” that can balance out your mood. Make it a MUST to have a minimum of 30 minutes a day of some sort of cardio.

4.Wake up! : The “depression cure” isn’t found in your bed, so stop trying to feel better by sleeping all the time. The worst thing you can do hope that positivity will suddenly appear one day. Wake up, get dressed for the day, and get out of your house. Surround yourself with people has a better chance of lifting your mood than hibernating by yourself.

5.Ask for help: You may not like asking for help, but your friend’s or family might know exactly what you may need to boost your mood or make you laugh. Reach out to a few close friends, share what has been going on, and ask if they can help you through the rough patch.

6.Start counseling: Sometimes we all need a little nudge in the right direction. Therapists are able to help you find the best route of treatment and you don’t have to fight the depression alone.

Depression hurts. Plain and simple.Remember, you won’t feel like this forever. This pain is for now and people care about you. Let others be there for you, care for you, and help you out. So make a commitment to get working and push through one day at a time.

Jennine Estes is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in San Diego with a private practice in Mission Valley. She has appeared as a Relationship Expert in Redbook Magazine, Martha Stewart Publications' Whole Living Magazine, Social Work Today Magazine, local San Diego news stations, and more. To learn more relationship advice from the author Jennine Estes MFC#47653, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her new San Diego Couples Therapy website.