Expert Q & A

Coping with Depression during the Holidays

Dec 19, 2014 10:29AM
Question: I am a caregiver to my wife who is suffering from breast cancer. With the holidays nearing, I am feeling depressed and would like some suggestions on coping during such times.

Caregiving Expert,  Margery Pabst
Please know that your feelings are not unusual and that acknowledging them as you did helps. Expressing emotions is healthy. Continue to express feelings with yourself, your care partner, and your friends. It's a good first step.  

The holidays can be particularly difficult as many of us tend to place high expectations on ourselves and others, so consider this list of tips about preparing for and engaging in the holiday festivities:

-Take it easy. Set aside generous amounts of time for yourself and your wife to do what relaxes you. For me, relaxation comes from listening to music that evokes holidays past. For some people, this can be depressing, so choose something that will help you relax and raise your spirits.  

-Keep simple traditions alive. When my husband was ill, we jointly decided not to put up a big tree, but instead bought a small tree and used candles to create lights in the house. The candles were much easier to dismantle after the holiday!

-Engage in fewer celebrations. The holidays can pose a feast of activities morning, noon, and night.  Join in fewer and I think you'll enjoy them more rather than attending everything and rushing around.

-Start a new, easy to do, tradition. If possible, new and easy could be an outing or an overnight at a local hotel or bed and breakfast. Getting away from the house will provide variety and refresh your souls.

Each of these suggestions are ones that work for me, so please reject or modify as they fit your needs and personality. Making plans jointly with your wife will also give you both a feeling of ownership and positive expectation as the holidays approach.

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Margery Pabst has over 30 years experience as a national speaker, facilitator, and is the co-author of four books focused on human potential and personal resilience. She is the co-author of "Enrich Your Caregiving Journey", winner of the 2010 "Caregiver Friendly Award" and the host of eCareDiary's "Caregiver and Physician Conversations" which airs the last Tuesday of each month at 2PM EDT. Margery Pabst is a thought leader for both family and professional caregivers and speaks at national con  For more information, go to
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