For most people, this time of year is filled with holiday music, fun-filled get-togethers and the excitement leading up to the holidays. But for many, the holiday cheer can trigger feelings of anxiety, sadness and even depression. People may experience these symptoms for many reasons, but the good news is there are ways to combat these feelings and get back to enjoying the festivities.
Here are some common causes of the holidays blues, and what you can do about them.
Setting Unrealistic Family Expectations
This is the time of year for holiday movies, many of which feature picture-perfect family gatherings. But it’s important to remember they are just movies, and to set realistic expectations for your own family gatherings. Remember that no family is perfect, and getting together for the holidays doesn’t always guarantee a happy ending.
What you can do: Rather than comparing your clan to a fictitious family, focus on spending time with the relatives you don’t get to see very often and catching up. Appreciate those who traveled far distances, hosted an event and brought gifts.
Lack of Sleep
With so much to do around the holidays, it’s easy to get fewer hours of sleep and feel overly tired during the day. There are so many people to see, places to go and things to get done in a short amount of time, anyone can easily become sleep-deprived. What’s more, people still may be adjusting to the recent time change.
What you can do: Keep in mind that decreased amounts of sleep can lead to depression, causing you to become less productive and fall behind on your to-do list. You’re more prone to seasonal affective disorder during this time of year, so be sure to make sleep a priority and rest up when you can.
Between holiday concerts, parties and other festive events, time can easily slip away from you. While the holiday season is a great time to have fun, there are many tasks that need to be done. If all of these elements are not planned in advance, they can turn a fun season into a stressful time.
What you can do: Don’t wait until the last minute! Do your shopping, cookie baking and gift wrapping over time. Space them out so they don’t pile up and leave you feeling overwhelmed. If you work, choose one activity to do each weekend to space things out and help you enjoy it rather than feel pressure to check one more item off your list.
The holidays bring so many opportunities to indulge in delicious treats, savory dinners and festive cocktails. Unfortunately, increased alcohol intake can provoke feelings of depression, so limit how many drinks you have in a sitting. Overeating can make you feel tired and sluggish, and even depressed if you’ve been working toward a weight-loss goal. It also can trigger digestive problems such as GERD, so be careful what foods you eat—especially if it’s not what you’re used to eating.
What you can do: Maintain portion control with what you eat and drink. When eating, start out with healthy snacks such as veggies and dip or fruit salad. While they won’t fill you up, they will help you feel fuller quicker. Be sure to mix in eating and drinking with catching up with relatives. Talking will help you eat slower and therefore feel fuller sooner.
To avoid falling into a slump, maintain as much regularity in your lifestyle as time allows. The best way to prevent yourself from the holiday blues is to get enough sleep and exercise and maintain a healthy diet. It’s OK to indulge here and there, but don’t go overboard. Make yourself a priority, and listen to your body and what it needs. If you feel like you’re falling into the holiday blues, contact our behavioral health team to meet with a specialist by calling 419-668-0311.