It’s the season to be jolly, so why are you so sad? Whatever your reasons for the holiday blues, here are some tips to keep your spirits up all year round.
If you find that the holiday season leaves you feeling a little lacking, you’re not alone. Holiday blues is a seasonal issue that affects close to 5% of the American population.
The holiday season adds stress and disrupts normal routines which can bring on the anxiety and sadness. Is there a way to get through the holidays with less stress, even if you’re not really feeling the holiday spirit?
The next time you find yourself struggling during the holidays, try out these methods you can use to get through the stress.
What are the Holiday Blues?
The term holiday blues is for a seasonal form of depression and anxiety that occurs around the holiday time, mainly Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is a temporary form of depression and anxiety.
Symptoms include fatigue, frustration, loneliness, concentration issues, and loss of interest in normal activities. You may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches.
Holiday depression also increases stress. This isn’t a surprise considering 38% of people experience increased stress during the holiday seasons.
For people experiencing holiday blues or holiday depression syndrome, the stress quickly turns to anxiety and depression.
There are many factors that can contribute to holiday depression. These factors include:
- Loss of loved ones
- Inability to see loved ones for the holidays
- Changes in your routine
- More alcohol consumption than normal
- Changes in your diet
- Financial burdens
- Less sunlight during the winter months
The constant bustle during the holiday season is a significant factor in holiday blues. With different parties or other holiday functions, normal routines are disrupted, including diet and exercise.
How can you overcome these issues and protect your mental health during the holidays?
Holiday Stress Management
The most important thing you can do to fight the holiday blues is to give yourself some leeway. Understand that it’s okay to feel stress, and learn to handle that stress in productive ways.
If you know you’re prone to holiday depression, make sure you stay away from alcohol as much as possible. Alcohol consumption will only make the situation worse.
If you’re going to functions where alcohol is available, limit the amount you drink or abstain altogether if possible. This will help keep your mind clear and help you avoid further feelings of depression and anxiety.
Step Away from Social Media
Sometimes seeing updates from people about their holiday festivities can cause further depressive episodes. If you’re struggling with holiday depression and stress, take time away from these types of triggers.
It’s okay to unplug from social media for a little while to support your mental health.
Make Plans with Supportive Friends
When you’re feeling depressed, sometimes you just want to stay home and avoid people. To promote good mental health during the holidays though, you should really do the opposite.
Invite friends or accept invitations to events during the holiday season. Make sure you make these plans with people supportive and understanding of your holiday depression.
Take Control of Your Routines
The holidays can disrupt our normal activities. You may find yourself facing increased social events, struggling to keep up with work before holiday breaks, or scrambling to go shopping before you run out of time.
This level of activity can cause serious stress if you’re not careful.
Learn to say no to activities that are not mandatory or helpful. Keep to your regular schedule as much as possible to avoid extra stress.
Most importantly, maintain a regular sleep schedule. Lack of sleep can increase anxiety and depression, so take care of yourself.
Maintain a Holiday Budget
One of the biggest stressors during the holiday season is the financial strain. 53% of people experience financial stress during this time.
This stress increases for someone dealing with holiday depression symptoms. Do not over-extend yourself trying to make people happy.
Make sure you create a budget for the season and stick to it.
Watch Your Diet
It’s easy to get caught up with all the holiday goodies, especially those high-carb items like cookies. The problem is, these indulgences can increase sluggishness and fatigue.
If you’re dealing with the holiday blues, make sure you maintain a healthy diet as much as possible. Also, add some high-energy options to help you fight those feelings of fatigue.
Food items such as blueberries, almonds, salmon, or kale are all great options to include.
Keeping an exercise schedule is a good way to help increase endorphins and fight back against anxiety and depression episodes. This doesn’t have to turn into a full scale, heavy-weight lifting program.
Find simple activities that will keep you moving. Take a walk or jog, use a rebounder, or take a dance class to keep yourself active.
Make sure it’s an activity you’ll enjoy.
Find Volunteer Opportunities
A good way to work through the holiday blues is to keep busy. If you’re having trouble finding activities, consider finding a volunteer opportunity.
Find a local shelter or another place to give your time to.
If you can’t find a local opportunity, search for an online option. There’s always a way to help other people.
Set Some Attainable End-of-Year Goals
It may seem counterintuitive to set new goals for yourself during a time of anxiety, but it can really help you focus on something achievable. Make sure you pick an activity it’s actually feasible for you to complete.
Write these goals and, and check the ones you complete. This helps you feel in control during times where you can’t control other things.
It will also help you feel like you’ve accomplished something during a hectic time.
Talk to a Therapist
If you can’t seem to get out of the funk that comes with holiday depression, or you can’t find the support you need during this time, you may want to seek out a therapist. A therapist can act as your support system during a difficult period.
A therapist is someone you can talk to when the anxiety and depression get too difficult to manage. They can also give you someone to interact with if you’re far away from friends and family.
Mental Health and Your Overall Health
If your mental health is struggling, this can affect your overall health. The holiday blues is an issue you need to take seriously so your physical health doesn’t suffer during this time.
Getting the help you need should always be a priority, so you can enjoy life and feel your best. If you need help staying healthy, you may want to check out the resources we have available.