Feeling depressed or anxious during the holidays?

The holiday blues refer to emotions of depression or anxiety during the holidays. While the holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time of merriment and giving, not everyone feels this way.

What factors can underly the holiday blues?

The following may affect people’s moods during the holidays:

  • Loneliness and grief. The holidays are a time for family. If you’ve lost a loved one through death, you may be missing them more than usual. Wishing they were with you makes your loneliness feel greater, especially when seeing others celebrating with spouses or family. If you’ve recently gone through divorce, being alone may also be hard.
  • Social demands. Buying gifts, hosting parties, housecleaning, decorating and strained finances can create stress. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed or anxious about handling everything on your plate.
  • Feeling low self-esteem. You might be noticing friends and family are happier than normal. If you don’t feel that way and start comparing yourself with them, you could feel unfulfilled and inadequate.
  • Gloomy weather. Gloomy weather can create a seasonal pattern in some people. Less daylight hours and colder weather creep in during fall and winter. With less sunlight, serotonin levels drop, and as a result, some people might experience depression.

Approaches to help you cope

What can you do to cope with the holiday blues? Here are some tips that might help you deal with stress or feelings of depression:

  • Self-care. Ensure you eat healthy, get lots of sleep and exercise frequently. Avoid drinking excessive alcohol, smoking and drug use. Practice breathing exercises to reduce stress. Stay away from known triggers and plan enjoyable activities. If you need extra help, ask family and friends to assist you with meals or shopping. If you feel rushed and frantic, take some time for yourself. Even fifteen minutes alone, going for a walk or listening to soothing music can help.
  • Focus on the positive. If some activities make you feel joyful, focus on those and include them in your schedule. For example, some people enjoy music and going to a concert. Others might prefer a winter sport like skiing.

(Reference: Bradley University)

Consider arranging a therapy session

Counseling is one of the most effective ways to deal with the holiday blues. In fact, the sooner you get started, the better position you will be in to head off anxiety or depression. At Affordable Therapy LA, our therapists have made a difference for many patients during the holiday season. Reach out and find out how we can help.