Cocooning through Holiday Depression

For some people the holidays are a time of wonder, activity and the joy of being with loved ones. For others including myself, the holidays bring depression and are something to get through and survive.

There are depression triggers everywhere.

After decades of not understanding why the holidays bring out my darkest dark, I finally realized that I was missing an epic opportunity to change my relationship to this now very predictable occurrence.

It’s normal to experience bittersweet wistfulness right along with moments of great joy because we know that we simply can’t hold onto them.

This is not what I am referring to when I am talking about holiday depression.

Holiday depression is feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that are magnified through a lens of social isolation, overwhelm, financial peril, and toxic relationships.

Add the chemical cocktail triggered by short daylight hours, increase in sugar, alcohol and caffeine, you have the perfect recipe for depression. For me this cycle is repeated every single year, even if I do my best to avoid it.
There are simply too many triggers to overcome.
This year I am trying a slightly different approach to my holiday depression.

Cocooning through the depression.

I allow the depression to come knowing that at some point around January, the fog will lift I’ll start to feel more regulated again.

Cocooning is a term coined by trend predictor Faith Popcorn to describe a period in your life in which you consciously create a supportive and comforting environment for yourself in order to replenish and grow before a big transition or after a major occurrence.

Much in the same way a caterpillar builds a cocoon to protect itself during a metamorphosis, we cocoon during a period of depression to cultivate an environment that feels comforting, nurturing and introspective to garner strength for the next phase of emergent personal growth.
By providing myself with a nurturing environment, I’m able to manage my depression.
So instead of crumbling into a pile and staying in bed with the covers pulled over my head until January, I put a few things in place to support my cocoon phase.

Here is what really works for me:

  • Exercise. If you have a pre-disposition to depression like I do, you know that exercise is a key element to mood management. So even if it’s going to the gym and cycling for 20 minutes on level one, it helps so much.
  • Sleep. I go to bed embarrassingly early. I have zero social life during a cocooning phase. But honestly it’s what I need most, so I hardly even get on the phone during this time.
  • Makeup. Ok, this is a weird one I admit, but if I take the time to put makeup on, I feel more put together and way less depressed, and the probability of me going back to bed are a lot less likely if I have a full face of makeup on. It’s a life hack that works for me.
  • Escapist TV. As much as I would love to be the person who uses their cocoon time to enrich the mind and soul with deep books on worthwhile subjects, it’s just not my truth. My brain feels like mush and my concentration is horrible so I just give in and watch forensics shows and as many episodes of Fixer Upper that I can get my hands on.
  • Greens. I really want to eat cookies and pasta, however white flour and sugar notably worsens my depression. So I buy a big bag of baby kale and allow myself to eat whatever I want as long as it is on a bed of greens.
  • Husband. We all have at least one person who cheers us up and is there for us no matter what. For me this is my beloved husband. He is so supportive and I rely on him a lot to emotionally regulate during a cocooning. And I do the same for him, so that makes it extra nice.
Cocooning has helped me transform my holiday depression into a time of self care that set me up to emerge in the new year ready to fly.