Battling the Holiday BluesBy Nannette S. Funderburk, PhD, LPCS / December 27, 2019
It’s the MOST WONDERFUL time of the year. That’s how the saying goes, but there are some who don’t like this time of year; in actuality, they dread it. This time of year can be difficult for those who have been forced into transition, whether it be the death of a loved one or pet, loss of a job, end of a relationship, or any situation that feels like a loss. One of these, or similar, situations coupled with the decreasing daylight can bring about symptoms of the holiday blues. Symptoms such as:
- Isolating from others
- Feeling sad or lonely
- No pleasure in activities that used to be pleasurable
- Fatigue or low energy
- Feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
If these symptoms are occurring in your life, you may be battling the holiday blues. The holiday blues are not a diagnosable mental health disorder, but the impact is nonetheless real. The symptoms are shorter in duration, frequency, and intensity than clinical depression, but there are definite similarities. Also, these symptoms can turn into clinical depression, which is why it is important to address the symptoms as soon as they are noticed.
The holiday blues frequently occur during the November and December holidays but it can actually occur any time there is holiday or vacation season. The holiday blues can come for many reasons and sometimes its symptoms mimic clinical depression. Feeling the holiday blues, however, does not mean you are stuck with the feeling. There are a few do’s and don’ts that can be helpful.
DO talk with someone who can help you through this difficult time — family members, friends, faith leaders, or professional counselors.
DO work on getting appropriate rest. Although there are responsibilities that you have, recognize which are necessary and which are only preferred. You can get back to the preferred tasks when you are feeling better.
DO say no! There’s only one of you, and you cannot attend every function. Figure out which ones are most important and highlight those events for the season.
DO stay open to new traditions. Life happens to us all, and the mental picture of what the holidays look like may have to shift. This doesn’t have to be bad, only different.
DON’T drink too much alcohol. Limit yourself to one to two drinks at social gatherings and try not to keep it readily available at your home. Drinking to excess can affect your mood and make negative feelings seem bigger.
DON’T allow negative thoughts into your mind and if they do come, don’t allow them to stay. It’s your mind, so you can control it. Once you get practice at doing this it becomes easier. You must tell yourself what to think (not what not to think) and then rehearse that. Whatever you focus on gets bigger.
The holiday blues do pass and you’ll feel better again. We all need help at various points in our lives. If you need help, seek it, so that you can move forward with life.