The holiday season is typically viewed as a time of happiness and rejoicing. But for some, it can be a period of painful reflection, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. “Holiday Blues” or holiday depression is a term used to describe temporary feelings of anxiety or depression that present during the holiday season. These feelings are typically triggered by the added stress, unrealistic expectations, or even bad memories that are associated with the holiday season. Thankfully, for most, holiday blues are usually only temporary, and resolve on their own in the new year. But many of those who suffer with prior mental health conditions report that the holidays make their condition worse.
There are many ways to manage/avoid the holiday blues and minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. It is important to stick to a normal routine and sleep schedule, as much as possible. Do not abandon your healthy habits such as diet and exercise or allow the holidays to become a free-for-all, as this will only add to the stress and guilt. It is important to take time for yourself when needed and spend your time with supportive, caring people. Make a to-do list to help you stay on track and organized. Set reasonable expectations and goals for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, and attending parties. Set a budget for gifts and stick to it. Most importantly, acknowledge your feelings and find the best ways to manage them appropriately.
If you find yourself experiencing holiday blues, remember you are not alone. Do not let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.
This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.
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April 8, 2023
November 8, 2023