How to Cope with the Holiday Blues

How to Cope with the Holiday Blues

The holidays can be a tough time of year for a lot of individuals around the globe. Holiday blues are a very legitimate phenomenon that affects millions each year, and it even affects people that do love the holidays. You may have also heard or seen the term seasonal depression, which is essentially the same as the holiday blues. The holidays can trigger feelings of sadness and depression possibly due to the stress that the holiday season brings, the impending new year, or because one might feel alone during this time that is typically enjoyed with friends and family. There are always ways to cope and overcome the holiday blues, and today we are going to go into detail about ways to combat them.

Make Time for Yourself

The holidays can be an extremely overwhelming time that is filled with expectations from others, rushing around to do last minute shopping, and potentially feeling stressed about money. Dealing with all of these things would have anyone feeling down and not like themselves, so try your best to take a step back and do something for yourself instead. If you feel as if you are someone that is constantly putting others first during the holiday season, make an effort to put yourself first once in a while during this time. Pick a day that you can turn your phone on silent, have your favorite breakfast, spend some time outside if you are able to, and do anything else throughout the day that calms you and fills your cup. Do this as much as it feels necessary, and your mental health is sure to thank you.

Something else that may help raise your spirits is searching out a charity or organization you feel passionate about and donating your time to this cause. It has been shown that helping others and doing something beneficial for your community is an excellent way to feel more fulfilled in your everyday life. If your schedule and resources allow for it, this may be an excellent option to help lift your mood.

Allow Yourself to Feel

Allowing yourself to work through and feel any emotions that the holidays may bring up is an incredibly crucial aspect of coping with the holiday blues. Many find that the holidays are especially hard because of having lost someone, and this time of year brings up those deep feelings of grief. It may be easier to bottle up those feelings and act like they do not exist, but that will only leave you feeling worse in the long run. Allow yourself to sit with and experience any feelings that the holidays provoke and know that it is okay to not be okay all of the time. 

Reach Out to Others

If you feel as if the approaching holidays really have taken a toll on your mental health, please do not hesitate with reaching out to a trusted friend, loved one, or professional. This goes hand-in-hand with allowing yourself to feel because it is not always feasible to do it alone. It is so important to connect with someone you consider yourself to be close with. Speaking whatever is on your mind and getting it out into the universe is a tried-and-true way to help stabilize how you are feeling.

If you feel especially down and that nothing will come out of speaking to a loved one, seeking professional help is always a viable option. A licensed therapist is more equipped to help you through any serious issues, and they can give you more personalized guidance to assist you in dealing with these issues and ways to best cope with them.

Learn to Be Okay with Change

One of the reasons the holidays have a negative effect on so many is due to all of the changes that can come with the holiday season. Maybe your kids are getting older and now things look different at home at Christmas, or you are living too far away to be able to make the visit home. Whatever it may be, try to understand and come to terms that change is inevitable and the holiday season cannot look the exact same each and every year. A good idea might be to attempt some new traditions with your family, like choosing a new place that is most convenient for everyone to get together and celebrate. Another potential option might be to set aside a day of the year outside of Christmas or Thanksgiving and instead make that your designated family holiday where you can cook up your favorite food and enjoy your quality time together.

Stay as Healthy as Possible

While it is so easy to get sucked into indulging in all of the delicious and decadent food and treats during the holidays, it will be much better on your body and mind to try and stay as healthy during this time as you possibly can. With office Christmas parties, friends’ holiday parties, and then the actual holidays themselves, there are so many opportunities to overeat and overindulge. These situations play a huge part in why so many individuals feel down during the holiday season. If you feel as if unhealthy habits are a reason you do not feel good this time of year, try to stay aware and make a mental note of this fact. Try and contribute a healthy version of a classic dish to your friends’ holiday potluck, for example. Avoiding alcohol as much as possible is another factor that can greatly help how you are feeling. Social drinking is at an all-time high during the holidays, but at the end of the day, it still is a depressant and is not going to benefit or heal any sadness that might be taking place.

Even being aware that you typically deal with holiday blues each year can bring on the stressed and upset feelings before the holidays have even arrived. Being aware of what is happening really is important and a positive thing, because at least you can then try out different things to try and combat the blues. Make sure to always put yourself first and do something that brings you joy, stay as healthy as possible, allow yourself to feel your emotions and talk through them, and try to be okay with any changes. Remember, the holidays will pass and better times will come, and remember that you are absolutely never alone.

Getting Help

If you are in need of counseling services, we offer online services for anyone living in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. We also have in-person counseling services for patients in the DFW area. We understand that the holidays can be a difficult time and we can help support you in whatever way that you need.

Dr. Michael Messina

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