If you’re feeling irritable, rushed, sad or lonely during the holiday period you may have the “holiday blues”. ‘Tis the season to be jolly – and stressed out. Holidays force people together in ways they don’t usually interact and families / friends can be the greatest source of joy and the greatest source of misery, often both at the same time.
While they may be intense and unsettling, holiday blues are usually short-lived, lasting a few days to a few weeks prior to or just after the holidays. There are many causes for holiday blues and they bring with them an increased risk of a number of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and even suicide attempts.
The good news is holiday blues usually subside after the holiday season is over and daily routines are resumed.
Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression:
Realize you can’t “do it all” and may need help to prioritize. Let go of unrealistic expectations. Learn to say “no” before you become overwhelmed or give others a chance to help out and lighten the load for you.
Budget both time and money wisely – focus more on spending time together and building memories vs. buying lavish gifts.
Acknowledge your feelings – it’s okay to feel sadness and grief if you have recently lost a loved one.
Reach out for support and companionship at work, your community, and church. Build new connections and strengthen bonds with old friends.
Plan ahead for baking, shopping, and visiting so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to get everything done.
Don’t abandon healthy habits. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity and avoid overindulging on the snacks or alcohol.
Make time for real fun – include time for things you like to do and remember everyone needs some down time.
Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.
Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, and/or feeling irritable and hopeless. If these feelings persist, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.