For some, the holidays represent a time of love, family and celebration. For others the holiday season may spark an overwhelming feeling of stress and depression. There are many factors that contribute to holiday depression: Self esteem, financial issues, unemployment, memories of deceased loved ones, relationship status, loneliness and much more. So, how do we minimize holiday blues?
If you find yourself feeling overly fatigued, frustrated, lonely, sad, or wanting to be isolated, there’s a good possibility you are suffering from holiday blues. This is a period of depression and will usually go away after the holiday or winter season, but should still be taken very seriously! If your feelings become too overwhelming, talk to a therapist to figure out your options.
Try these tips to help you feel better:
- Accept your feelings. The very first thing you want to do is accept and acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season. Similarly, if you are having financial issues and you are not happy about it, accept how you are feeling at the moment and realize that it is temporary.
- Be open to change. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or the same like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. Be open to the possibility that not every holiday season will go according to how you imagined and wanted. You may have a limited budget and you may need to spend accordingly.
- Stick to a routine and get enough sleep. Holiday parties, and other events may make it difficult, but it is extremely important for your mental health to stick to your normal routine of eating and sleeping well.
Try these suggestions:
Everybody feels down or sad at times. But it’s important to be able to recognize when depression has become more than a temporary thing, and when to seek help.
The following are a list of the signs and symptoms that may be experienced by someone with depression.
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
- Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
Although depression is often thought of being in an extreme state of sadness, there is a huge difference between clinical depression and feeling down or sad. Sadness is something we all experience; it is a normal, human emotion. Feeling down is a natural reaction to painful circumstances. In fact, it is OK to feel unhappy at times. All of us will experience sadness at some point in our lives. However, sadness is not regular. Sadness is not an every moment of every day thing. Sadness goes away, depression does not. Depression, on the other hand, is an illness with many more symptoms than a sad mood. A person with clinical depression can feel lost in figuring out the reason behind his dark feelings. The depressed person loses interest in activities he enjoyed before. He is constantly tired, anxious, and is not sleeping well. There is significant weight changes and lack of concentration. Sometimes, he thinks it might be better if he was not alive anymore…
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