How to cope with the Holiday Blues

This time of year can be really hard. Not only is it when SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) can kick in due to lack of sunlight, but the “holiday blues” sure don’t help either.

Around the end of December, with all of the holidays coming up, it seems like everyone is just supposed to be happy. There are holiday songs, family visits and presents to buy - it seems like such an exciting time of year. But the problem is this exciting time of year can become overwhelming very quickly.

People seem to be running around a lot at this time of year and this busyness can put more stress on us. This sense of urgency to get everything done while still dealing with everyday stresses can lead to some pretty bad “holiday blues” as we try to keep up. That’s why its so important to be able to recognize if you’re running yourself too thin over the holidays. You aren’t a superhero and you can’t do everything at once (no one expects you to) but you can do your best to take things slow and enjoy the holidays while they’re around.

The Mayo Clinic provides some great tips for dealing with mental health over the holidays which we have used to make our own checklist.

Our tips for taking care of your mental health over the holidays:

  1. Pay attention to your feelings - and don’t ignore them

    This falls under the idea of staying mindful (which you can read more about it this blog post). It’s okay to not feel happy during the holiday season even when it seems like everyone is supposed to be. Don’t push your feelings off to the side, if you are feeling down or just a little off, give yourself the time you need to express your feelings and find things that help you feel better.

  2. Talk to someone

    You aren’t the only one going through a hard time at this time of year - it can be comforting to share your feelings with someone who could be going through something similar. Talking about it can help you find ways that help you to cope and give you a support system.

  3. Try not to have set expectations of what the “holidays” are

    Whenever we think of the holidays - we think of happiness, family, music and pretty decorations and presents. But that’s not all it is. The holidays are also full of hardships for many people. Life doesn’t stop for the holidays and having the extra expenses or even just not having a lot of time can be a really big strain. This time of year feels very urgent - like everything needs to get done NOW - but it’s okay to take a step back. Remember that it is okay if you don’t think you can live up to these expectations but if you take care of yourself first, you’ll be more ready to handle the busy holidays when they do come.

    This tip also goes for those around you - you never know what other people are dealing with. So, check on the people and offer your support because you never know if they might be having a hard time right now too.

  4. Make plans and don’t forget to take care of yourself

    With all of the shopping and visiting that needs to get done during the holidays, it can feel like we’re constantly going somewhere. This can be difficult when you feel in need of a rest because it seems like there’s always somewhere new for you to be. The best way to handle this is to plan when you’ll get things done. Whether that means planning to do your shopping on particular days or going to visit family only at set times, making a plan can help things seem a little less overwhelming all at once.

    This also means planning time in your day to take care of yourself and practice self-care so you can be best prepared to face the days ahead of you. You could take the time to do some yoga, cook, workout or even just relax for a little while to recharge your energy.

The holidays are different for everybody, from traditions to feelings and finances, there are lots of things going on at this time of year that can seem like too much to handle. But remember, if you take a second to take care of you, you’ll be better prepared to take on the extra stress that comes with the holiday season.

Jennifer P