Christmas trees, Santa Claus, mistletoe and carolers are all happy, fun holiday pleasures. For most the holidays are a time of joy, celebration and gratitude. There’s nothing better than getting together with friends and loved ones during the holiday season for a cup of good cheer. But for some people the holidays can be a time of stress, loneliness and sadness, or what the experts call the “holiday blues”.
What are the signs of holiday depression?
Holiday depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or background. Some of the common signs are:
- Feeling sad, hopeless or empty
- Losing interest in activities that you normally enjoy
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Feeling tired or sluggish
- Having changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling guilty, worthless or helpless
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Having thoughts of death or suicide
Solutions for a depressing problem?
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you are not alone. There are many ways to cope with holiday depression and make the season more enjoyable. Here are some tips:
- Talk to someone. Sometimes, just sharing your feelings with a trusted friend, family member or support group can make a big difference. You may find that others are going through similar challenges and can offer you comfort and advice. If your symptoms are severe or interfere with your daily functioning, you may have a clinical depression that requires treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor, therapist or counselor who can help you.
- Set realistic expectations. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have a perfect holiday. Remember that no one’s life is like a Hallmark movie. Be flexible and accept that things may not go as planned. Focus on what matters most to you and let go of the rest.
- Practice self-care. The holidays can be hectic and stressful, so make sure you take care of yourself physically and mentally. Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs. Find time to relax and do something that makes you happy, such as reading a book, listening to music or taking a walk.
- Be grateful. One of the best ways to combat holiday depression is to cultivate a positive attitude. Instead of dwelling on what you don’t have or what went wrong, focus on what you have and what went right. Make a list of things that you are thankful for and express your appreciation to others.
- Give back. Another way to boost your mood is to help others who are less fortunate than you. You can volunteer at a local charity, donate to a worthy cause or simply perform a random act of kindness. You will not only make someone else’s day better, but also feel more fulfilled and connected. I like to buy a gift for the angel tree, or volunteer at the Salvation Army. There’s aways a place to volunteer during the holidays.
- Avoid social isolation. If you find yourself sitting at home alone and avoiding fun holiday get-togethers due to sadness, try to get out more. Call a friend with a dinner invitation, join a club or take a class. Most importantly, get out of the house. Go shopping, ice skating or see a movie. The world is full of wonder during the holidays.
- Get lots of exercise. Nothing perks you up more than a good workout or a brisk walk. Get to the gym and stimulate those endorphins. Research has proven that regular exercise works wonders to improve depression.
- Go to church. Get in touch with your spiritual side. Sing praises to the Lord, thanking Him for all that’s right in the world, and praying for those things you consider wrongs. According to studies, prayers praising the Lord can significantly improve the symptoms of depression.
The holiday blues are common and often normal, but they don’t have to ruin your season. By following these tips, you can overcome holiday depression and enjoy the holidays with more happiness and peace. Happy holidays!