During the whirl of the holiday season, essentially from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, it may seem to you that the whole world is in a perpetual state of celebratory ecstasy. If this time of year leaves you feeling a bit empty, you may even begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with you. Would it surprise you to learn that, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)1, about 64 percent of people experience depression during the winter holidays? If you’re in that 64 percent, you can feel comforted by the fact that you’re not alone, and that there are some very good reasons to feel this way. Fortunately, there are also some very effective ways to beat the winter blues.
Before we get into all of that, though, let’s define what we’re discussing. What people typically experience when they’ve got the winter blues is amplified depression. In other words, this means a lowered mood for those who don’t usually struggle with depression and intensified negative emotions for those who do. If your normal routine seems more difficult than usual, and you feel fatigued, you may be dealing with seasonal depression. This can cause you to have trouble concentrating, lose interest in the things you normally enjoy, suffer from a lack of energy, and experience mood swings.
Why? It could be related to the weather. When it’s cold out, people tend to become more isolated, which can contribute to depression. What’s more, melatonin levels, which affect sleep and mood, are disrupted by seasonal shifts. There is also research to suggest that less time in the sunshine during the winter months can cause a vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to depression.
There are also psychological and emotional reasons you might feel down at this time of year. People who don’t have families, or live far away from their families, often feel lonely during this season, when other people are celebrating with family and friends. Older people, in particular, may feel isolated and nostalgic for previous years when they had a house full of people. For people who have lost loved ones, the bright holiday season can be painful, and the cold, dark winter can feel empty. Then, too, there’s plenty of stress at this time of year. According to research from the American Psychological Association2, about 38 percent of people feel their stress increases during the holiday season, because of social and financial pressures, as well as having too much to do and too little time. After the holidays, there’s work to make up, and all the post-holiday bills to pay. With all of those factors, it’s easy to see why people would feel depressed at this time of year. So, what can you do to combat the winter blues?
First, acknowledge what you’re experiencing. Take stock of why you’re feeling down, and think about what you can do to make things easier. Go ahead and feel what you’re feeling, taking time to cry or find another outlet for your emotions. It’s normal to feel this way, and you are not going to be able to force yourself to be happy. Once you’ve acknowledged it, though, try these steps to help you work through and get past these painful emotions.
With over 60 years of experience providing behavioral healthcare services, SMA Healthcare offers a full continuum of services for those experiencing mental illness and/or addiction. Our high standards of care and unwavering dedication to our clients have made us a leader in healthcare, and our primary goal is our clients’ well-being. We’re proud to serve the communities in Citrus, Flagler, Marion, Putnam, St. Johns, and Volusia Counties, offering compassionate, quality care, provided by committed professionals, using evidence-based treatment practices to change lives for the better. We offer residential care, mental health rehab, and outpatient services, as well as substance abuse treatment and many other mental health services. To reach our 24/7 Access and Crisis Response Center, call us at 1-800-529- 4228. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through our website.