Do you feel overwhelmed, sad, stressed, or lonely as the holiday season approaches? You find yourself surrounded by others' excitement and in a holiday spirit, but you feel far from being able to identify with those positive emotions. You might be experiencing depression, better known as the “Holiday Blues.” It can become an isolating experience when the world tells us it is the most joyous time of the year. The holiday season can be stressful. It can also expose us to many triggers that stir up negative feelings. It is usually the time in which it is spent with family members, and not having those holiday events to attend can cause loneliness; some are unable to see family members for the celebrations. Even more so, it can add to the pressure of work-life balance and ensuring that being present mentally and physically for the holidays can be difficult. Some holiday traditions can also mean the expectations of gift-giving that can become a financial stressor. Seeing family members might not always be positive for some. Feeling pressured to commit to social events and engaging with others can remind us of disagreements and the possibility of bringing up more discord between family members. Boundaries established between friends and family can get tested, and the stresses of having to enforce them can bring their set anxieties. It is also a time to remember the loved ones we’ve lost. Experiencing grief is also one of the main reasons for the holiday blues. Other factors, such as already being diagnosed with a mental illness, like seasonal affective disorder or other mood disorders, can exacerbate symptoms and make the process of getting through the holiday season more difficult.
Here are some tips and strategies to manage through the holiday seasons and try to beat those holiday blues:
Practicing self-care: Identify your needs and engage in activities that promote wellness and emotional well-being.
Exercising regularly: Exercising helps produce endorphins, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter to boost energy and relieve stress.
Getting proper sleep: Stick to your regular nighttime routine. Getting 8 hours of sleep can help you feel refreshed and regulate your mood throughout the day.
Holiday budget: Budget how much you can spend on gift-giving to prevent financial stress.
Setting Boundaries: Setting limits and guidelines to protect your emotional well-being. It can start by reflecting on your needs. For example, setting limits with your time and availability (it is okay to say no!) and not engaging in triggering conversations during family gatherings.
Volunteering: When feeling lonely, engaging in volunteer work can be a positive way to build relationships in your community.
The Holidays can be difficult, and managing through them can be challenging. If in need of additional support, counseling can be beneficial to help cope through the season. Seeking help if the “holiday blues” feel more than just the blues.
See below for more tips:
Mental Health Counselor Intern