Are you feeling stressed out during the holidays? Are you becoming increasingly exhausted? Do you find yourself going crazy trying to juggle countless social gatherings? Are you becoming moodier as time passes by? Are you overexerting yourself financially? Are you feeling nostalgic, sad, and lonely? Don’t worry, there is a perfect explanation for this. It is called, “The Holiday Blues” and it can affect your mental health. It is not a recognized disorder, but none the less, it shouldn’t be ignored.
The symptoms are loneliness, irritability, sadness, anxiety, insomnia, hypersomnia, fatigue, lack of pleasure and motivation, difficulty concentrating, and withdrawing socially, etc. Even though the symptoms are similar to depression and seasonal affective disorder. It is much less severe and will completely diminish after the holiday season is over. If you are struggling with the holiday blues don’t fret. The following is a list of survival tips you can implement during the holidays:
- Develop / be open to new holiday traditions: Holding on to how the holidays used to be can make you feel nostalgic. Other times having unrealistic expectations of how the holidays should be can leave you feeling discouraged. Let go of resistance and be open to new holiday traditions.
- Say “no” to activities and favors you don’t have time for or don’t want to participate in: Adding too much onto your schedule can lead to stress. It is not possible to go to every single holiday activity you are invited to without feeling depleted. Setting boundaries is important for your time and energy. By saying “no”, you will have time for the things you enjoy, love, and feel energized after doing.
- Participate in social gatherings that make you feel good: The holiday blues make you want to spend the holidays alone and even though it is tempting. Don’t do it! Don’t isolate yourself! Participating in fun activities will lift your mood an distract you from negative thoughts. Isolating yourself will only worsen how you feel.
- Volunteer / give back: There are many nonprofit organizations that reach out to those with few or no resources during the holidays. These organizations provide a safe space for people to eat a hot meal, to stay warm from the weather, and even gift toys to children. They will not only benefit from your time, but you will feel good about yourself. Helping others who cannot give anything back will fill your heart with happiness.
Let go of the pressure to feel merry: Social media, television commercials, radio stations, shopping ads, and society make out the holidays to be a joyous season. People are constantly bombarded with pictures and scenes in movies of actors smiling and laughing. It is unrealistic to be happy 24/7. Don’t feel guilty for not feeling that way.
- Don’t grieve alone: The holidays can be hard on those who have lost loved ones. Especially, when their passing is recent. This is because most people use this time to reflect on their past. If possible, celebrate with friends and family and if you can’t. Look out for organizations that create safe spaces for people to come together and celebrate.
- Practice self-care: The holidays are fast moving and a busy season. If you have children, it is even more hectic. You may forget or feel like you don’t have time to take care of yourself. But please do! Move your body by exercising regularly, eat nutritious meals, get enough sleep, practice your favorite hobbies and most importantly rest when needed.
- Be aware of how you feel: Be honest with yourself. If the holidays are starting to become overwhelming, ask for help. Don’t wait till you have a mental breakdown or feel depressed. Talk it out with a friend or family member and if they don’t understand you can always go to a mental health professional. Therapists may be unavailable during the holidays, so don’t be afraid to call a helpline if needed.
Limit your alcohol intake: Alcohol can severely impact your mood negatively by increasing feelings of sadness and anger. Avoid having alcohol around the house and if you are attending a party limit yourself to one or two drinks.
- Avoid Comparison: On social media people will post statuses and upload pictures of their social gatherings and gifts they receive. It may leave you feeling extremely sad, especially if you are away for the holidays. If this is the case avoid using social media.
- Buying gifts: You do not need to break your bank account. Do not feel pressured or obligated to buy gifts. There are many ways of expressing your love and gratitude. You can help someone decorate their home and even cook a delicious meal. There are economical ways of gifting, such as, baking cupcakes. It allows you to give one to each person you care about. But in all honesty, friends and family should be understanding and if they aren’t. That is not on you.
The holiday season can be hard on all of us. If you feel sad, alone, and nostalgic. Know you are not alone. The holiday blues is a lot more common than you think. I hope these survival tips can help improve your situation and aid in mitigating unwanted feelings.
Feel free to also read: Winter Depression, Yes, It’s Very Real
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