Have you ever felt sad or blue during the Holidays? Is this a pattern you’ve noticed? Have you wondered why you feel this way? Does the thought of the holidays stress you out? You are not alone. Many people experience some level of holiday blues.
Holiday blues start around November or December and begin to subside in the beginning of the new year. The holiday blues are made up of temporary feelings of depression or anxiety.
There are multiple factors that produce these feelings. Having to shop, waiting in long lines, a myriad of social engagements, and expectations are some of the factors that affect the holiday blues. It is normal to feel stressed when budgeting for the holidays and gift giving. This creates an added financial burden. Hosting holiday parties or meals are labor intensive as well as having family stay with you and having memories to live up to. Family dynamics play a large role.
For someone that already experiences anxiety or depression, these stressors are magnified and may exacerbate the psychological symptoms. A study was done to identify top holiday stressors. These included being pressed for time, financial burdens, gift-giving pressure, and family get togethers. We can’t forget the hassles of traveling and taking time off from work. It would be safe to say that almost everyone has a holiday travel horror story to tell.
Ways to Minimize Holiday Blues
Recommendations to minimize the impact of the holiday blues:
- Get good quality sleep. Feeling rested will aid in stress tolerance.
- Engage in regular exercise. Stay fit to feel good about yourself.
- Eat a nutritionally balanced diet
- Plan in advance (travel, accommodations, reservations etc.)
- Make use of your social support network by talking to them
- Include usual activities that are part of your daily routine
- Don’t overdo it. There is only one of you to go around.
- Take breaks from group activities. Focus on personal wants and needs.
- Engage in self-care activities. Examples are bubble baths, a mani-pedi, hot shower, a game of golf, a hair blow out, a good talk with a great friend.
Family tension is a trigger for many individuals. It’s important to set realistic expectations of yourself and others. If you’re going to provide alcoholic beverages or be at a gathering with alcohol, it’s best if you drink in moderation. This will help keep you from becoming the negative center of attention. This is especially the case when you have children attending the festivities. It is recommended that you prioritize your children and their experience of the holidays.
Remember to avoid known triggers that have incited arguments in the past. Alcohol or other substances can play a role. If there has been an incident that instills tension amongst guests, steer clear. Distraction tactics are recommended such as changing the topic to a less volatile one, focus on the children present, give someone a heartfelt compliment.
Remember, you and your family need to survive the holidays. The less friction, lower alcohol, or substance consumption, the more you’ll be able to cope with the holidays. People often times have a drink to relax and unwind, during holidays, it can be a trigger for arguments and blaming over past issues. The holidays are supposed to be a happy time, that’s the expectation but the reality is that it rarely goes off without a hitch. Be flexible. If something doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it don’t get down on yourself. You are human. The expectation of “perfection” is one that produces a lot of angst. Life isn’t perfect. Your best bet is to be flexible and flow with whatever comes your way.
If the holiday blues have you feeling down or anxious, call Miami Psychology Group. We are experienced psychologists that can help you through these trying times.