Congratulations! You have made it halfway through the holiday season with a smile and (probably) more pumpkin pie than you’d like to admit. Now the heavy hitters, Christmas and New Year’s, are right around the corner, when nearly everyone seems to radiate jolly and good cheer. How do you handle feeling blue when the world around you is wrapped in garland and tinsel?
First, please know that you are not the Grinch because you feel this way, and you are definitely not alone. Knowing that, acknowledge your feelings and be kind to yourself.
In a survey on the holiday blues, 64% say they are affected, according to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)1. Below are some of the major causes and helpful remedies in battling the holiday blues.
For those who are single, without a family or who live far from family, the holiday season can be especially difficult. When others are celebrating with their families and friends, it can be very painful for those who are alone.
- Resist the urge to isolate and withdraw. Get up and around others, even if it is a trip to the local bookstore or your favorite coffee shop. Whether being in a group setting or exchanging a friendly smile with a stranger, being around others can uplift your mood and brighten your spirit.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is painful any time of the year, but can be particularly challenging during the holidays.
- Take time for yourself, to reflect and grieve as you need, but also spend time with supportive, caring people.
Missing the Past
Some of the biggest parts of the holidays are the memories and traditions we have developed over the years. If your current circumstances are unfavorable, you may find yourself stuck in the past longing for better times instead of enjoying the present.
- Create new memories and traditions. There is no blueprint for what your holiday should look like; if repeating an old tradition evokes unpleasant or sad feelings, reinvent a tradition for the present.
- If it is too difficult to avoid memories where you are, allow yourself to go somewhere new. Take a weekend getaway or book a hotel in a new city, and enjoy the little joys and moments of happiness awaiting in your next adventure.
A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 38% of people said their stress level increased during the holiday season2. The most common stressors listed by participants included: lack of money, lack of time, pressures of gift-giving and commercialism, and family gatherings.
- Set a budget for holiday activities and gifts. Setting reasonable expectations and goals for shopping, entertaining, and activities will prevent you from overextending yourself financially.
- Make time to rest and recover, even amongst a busy schedule and the pressure of holiday obligations. Taking time for yourself to relax and unwind is beneficial in being present in the moment and making the most of your holiday.
While the holidays can be stressful even under the best of circumstances, there are many tips and tricks to battle the holiday blues. And, in just a few weeks, the holidays will be over and you will get to start fresh with a new year!
Note: There is a difference between the holiday blues, which typically pass at the end of the holiday season, and more severe depression, which can last longer and interfere with daily living. If the holiday season has ended and you’re still feeling anxious or depressed, consulting with a medical professional is recommended. SMA Healthcare has its 24/7 Access Center available if you need help. Call anytime at (800) 539-4228.