The Holidays can be stressful. Shopping, social events, debt and other pressures can lead to anxiety. Missing loved ones and stewing about past events can also contribute. This change from your everyday routine can cause you to neglect good nutrition. And, you are more likely to skip exercise. Together, these factors can lead to Holiday Blues.
Will your holiday be blue?
During the holidays, you may feel lonely, sad, angry and have poor sleep. Even if you’re not prone to depression, you may have other symptoms, such as headaches, tension, and fatigue. It’s also easy to eat and drink too much.
It’s also common to feel a holiday letdown after the holidays are over. Hectic holidays can leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained. You may feel a sense of loss or frustration. That can turn into the blues.
“Holiday schedules can be very busy, but it is important to take time for self-care and quality time with family,” explained Allison Dailey, Adena Psychiatrist.
Don’t confuse holiday blues with clinical depression. Clinical depression is a disorder that may need to be relieved with medicine. The holiday blues could need something as simple as a good listener. Clinical depression, however, can be triggered in a number of ways at or just after the holidays.
There is also a tendency to link the holiday blues with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called depression with seasonal pattern. SAD, however, is a diagnosable problem linked to fewer hours of sunlight during the winter. People with the holiday blues also can also have SAD. But, the two are not directly related. People with SAD have symptoms of major depression throughout the fall and winter.
“The Holliday blues usually occur during the holiday season and often improve after the stress of the holidays has passed,” Dailey said. “Where Seasonal Affective Disorder usually starts in the late fall and can continue well into February and March.”
Keeping the blues away
People tend to lose sleep during the holidays and end up shortchanging themselves. Lack of sleep can cause cloudy thinking, and irritability. It can also hamper your ability to deal with everyday stress.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and getting some exercise can ease the blues. Also, make an effort to stay positive.
“Staying active and eating healthy are two ways to maintain mental health during the winter months,” said Dailey. “Get outside for fresh air regularly, even in the winter months, and maintain healthy and regular sleep/wake cycles.”
Tips to ease the blues
If you have the holiday blues, try these tips:
- Have a heart-to-heart with a friend.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Stick within your normal routine as much as you can.
- Set a realistic budget and then stick to it.
- Set realistic goals and expectations.
- Do not label the season as a time to cure past problems.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. That means don’t go to parties when you don’t really have time. Don’t take on events that will crowd your time. Don’t overextend yourself.
- Find time for yourself.
- Enjoy free holiday activities.
- Try to celebrate the holidays in a different way.
The holiday blues can be quite common, but if you are feeling especially down—for example, your sleep or your appetite is affected—contact Adena at (740) 779-7500 for help and guidance. If you are thinking about suicide, call 911 or your health care provider right away.
Take the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Quiz
As many as 20 percent of Americans get the winter blues when days grow shorter. But up to six percent of the population experiences the serious mood change during winter months called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This type of depression goes away in the spring, but comes back year after year.
Unlike the winter blues, SAD is a medical condition directly related to the lack of daylight. It's more common in women and in northern parts of the country, where there's less sunshine and winter is more desolate.
If you notice you feel depressed when the seasons change, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Take this quiz to learn more.