The winter holidays are often a time of joy, happiness, generosity, and quality time spent with the ones you love. Although the holidays are a time of merriment, they are also a time for many of us to reflect on the past, leaving many feeling lonely, introspective, and worried about the future. These are called the holiday blues and they can happen to anyone. This feeling of depression can happen in response to excessive stress and can continue on after the holidays. Some of the symptoms include:
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Losing interest in things that used to bring joy
- Having trouble concentrating
Once you know the signs of the holiday blues, tackle it head on by staying social, keeping active, not dwelling on the negative, drinking in moderation, and making time for yourself.
5 Ways to Deal with the Holiday Blues
- Stay Social: This is the best time of year to find and lean on your social network. One way to combat loneliness is to be close to those that bring you joy. Go to your office holiday party, attend a local tree lighting, meet friends for coffee, or get crafty! Find ways to get out of the house and be with others. If your friends and family live further away, don’t be afraid to connect over the phone, facetime, or through social media.
- Remain Active: How often do we stay home instead of going to the gym or venturing out for that brisk walk or light jog? With the overeating that often comes with the holidays, it’s even more important to exercise. You can start by getting a buddy to walk or exercise with. Set up a schedule and stick to it. Hold each other accountable. When you feel the urge to skip your workout – don’t! Remember, not only is physical activity important for your health, but it also helps release endorphins in your brain. Endorphins can make you feel happy, and can even help relieve pain. According to WebMd, “Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.” So even if you just take a walk each day to breath in fresh air and move your body, you will feel much better.
- Don’t Dwell on the Negative: The past is the past (and leave it there!). Don’t dwell on what has or hasn’t happened and the things you wish were different. Focus on the positives in your life. Don’t wish you could change others and don’t think of yourself as a victim. You control your outlook and your attitude… so remember to stay in the moment and enjoy what each day brings you.
- Drink Moderately: Be careful to not over indulge in alcohol during the holiday season. It is easy to have more drinks than usual with all of the holiday parties and social events. Be mindful of your drinking and avoid having too much. Alcohol will slow the brain down which can be mistaken as relaxation but often will result in greater stress and anxiety later. A great tip is to drink a full glass of water after you have had an alcoholic beverage. This will help keep you from getting dehydrated and from over drinking.
- Make Time for Yourself: We can easily get overwhelmed with so much to do (shopping, cleaning, cooking, traveling, working, etc.). Make sure to continue to find ‘me time’ throughout the holidays. This can be easily achieved by taking just 10-15 minutes each day to relax and de-stress. Just stop what you are doing and sit down to read a magazine, a book, close your eyes, meditate or turn on a television show that you like watching. If you take a little free time for yourself you will actually have more energy and feel less stressed.
You need to manage your expectations for the holiday season and pay attention to how you are feeling. If you feel off – talk with a loved one about it and try some of the five tips above.