Did you know that more people attempt suicide over the Christmas holidays than any other time?

It’s important to reach out to family and friends who might be experiencing depression over the holidays. Older people who may have recently lost a spouse or beloved pet; teenagers going through the angst of peer pressure or bullying; co-workers afraid of the uncertainty of their continued employment. All these conditions can cause people to fall into a dark and frightening place where they can no longer make healthy decisions for themselves. And the constant “happy family” images that abound in the media during the holiday season can make anyone feel worse about their own life.

So if you spot the signs of depression, what can you to do to help?

Talk – Despite being part of a generation that is more connected than ever, most of those connections are over social media or text messaging. Face to face conversations, with no interruptions, have become rare. Set up a coffee date or phone call; let them know you want to know what’s going on and ask how you can help.  In many cases, it is best to do more listening than talking. Many people are depressed because they have no one they can share their thoughts and fears with on a regular basis. Knowing someone will hear them is important.

Pamper – Do something nice for the person that will speak to their basic, human needs. Make them a favorite meal, do their laundry or walk their dog if getting out is a problem for them.

If you know them well enough, offer to give treat them to a spa day. Mind and body can both benefit from the aromatherapy offered by essential oils, whether you need to relax, energize, focus, or unwind. The healing touch of a professional masseur can work wonders for someone who is missing the human touch, literally. There are many great deals to be found for spas and health and wellness goods on sites like Groupon Coupons.

Inspire – Share a favorite book, movie, song, poem, prayer. Anything that makes you find peace or hope without being preachy. If you have been in similar conditions, share what steps you took to find your way back. Just don’t try to make light of the situation or use trite sayings. And avoid saying “I know how you feel…” because even if you have shared the experience, you haven’t felt their feelings. Acknowledge their pain and again ask “Is there anything I can do to help you out?”

Be someone’s guardian angel this Christmas. The feeling of knowing you are helping another soul find some peace could be the best present you’ll ever receive.