For most the holiday season is a time of warmth, new adventures, traditions, joy and belonging. But for others, the holidays can evoke feelings of anxiety, loneliness and stress. It is extremely important for people who already have a mental health diagnosis to be mindful during this time of year.
The holiday blues can be described as temporary yet persistent feelings of depression and/or anxiety during the holiday season. Symptoms may include but not limited to:
-Changes in sleep patterns (too much or too little)
-Changes in appetite (too much or too little)
-Loss in once enjoyable activities
As the season changes so does your personal environment. Changes in our environment have a direct effect on our thoughts, mood and behavior. The holiday season can add additional stress and expectations on our plate.
-Stress from holiday parties, white elephant gifts, secret santas and of course all of the finances behind these shindigs can cause a great deal of discomfort.
-Changes in the weather including significant drops in temperature and less sunlight can have a great impact on one's mood.
-Being around extended family and/or large groups of individuals that you do not feel comfortable with
-Feelings nostalgia leave us missing our families or family traditions especially if we are unable to go home, or a loved one has passed
-Changes in your diet; an increase in sugary and fatty foods and increased alcohol consumptions can leave our mind and body feeling lethargic
-Thinking about the new year can also lead to feelings of regret or failure
Tips to Help
-Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep
-Keep your boundaries firm; excuse yourself or say "no"
-Try to keep to your regular routine as much as possible; this includes workout plans, eating schedules and of course medication regimens
-Create a holiday budget to avoid over spending and feeling guilt and/or shame
-Set some time aside for yourself to relax, rebalance and recenter
As a quick reminder, the holiday blues are short term. If you are experiencing longer periods of sadness please reach out for help. You are not alone.
Remember if you or a loved one is really struggling with feelings of sadness, fear, anger or anything in between, please seek help. There is a therapist out there in all kinds of shapes, colors, sizes and pronouns. Take care!
Need help finding a therapist? Here a few places to start!