Well, not everyone. Psychologists say some people experience a bad case of the blues during the holiday season. And, of course, this year the holidays are particularly difficult due to the global pandemic. Many people have suffered grave losses, and even those who haven’t may be feeling isolated and sad.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the holiday blues are temporary feelings of anxiety or depression that occur during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
These temporary feelings of sadness exhibit themselves in various ways, including:
- Feeling a sense of loss
- Feeling lonely
- Greater tension and frustration
- Increased fatigue
- Increased feelings of sadness
How to avoid the holiday blues
To ward off the holiday blues, try to take good care of yourself. Psychologists from NAMI offer these tips to help you avoid the holiday blues:
- Enjoy traditions. Focus on the traditions you find most meaningful.
- Exercise. Stay fit and get exercise regularly, even if it’s just a short walk.
- Get plenty of sleep. Try to get enough sleep so you don’t feel exhausted, which can lead to feelings of sadness.
- Have a routine. Stick to your regular routines as much as possible.
- Keep it simple. Keep your holiday preparations simple and limit your activities to those you truly enjoy.
- Make time for yourself. Take a little time for relaxing activities – listening to music or reading.
- Practice moderation. Eat and drink healthy foods. If you feel down, don’t drink alcohol.
- Set a budget. Figure out what you can spend before doing your holiday shopping to avoid overspending.
- Set reasonable expectations. It’s ok to scale back on the cooking, baking and shopping.
- Stay connected. Don’t isolate yourself. Spend time (safely) with understanding people who care about you.
- Stay organized. Make a simple to-do list to keep yourself organized.
Do you have holiday blues – or is it more?
According to the American Psychological Association, there is an important difference between holiday blues and clinical depression.
With holiday blues, negative feelings are temporary. Your sadness or depressed symptoms will go away as the holiday season ends and you return to your normal routine.
However, if your symptoms linger, you may be experiencing a form of clinical depression.
If you have any of the following feelings, you should talk with your health care provider:
- You feel extreme sadness or despair for at least two weeks.
- Your symptoms interfere with your activities of daily living – your job, school or personal life.
- You have difficulty eating and sleeping.
- You feel helpless and hopeless about changing your situation.
It’s important to take depression seriously. If not treated, depression can lead to long-term mental health conditions. If your holiday blues do not go away with time, consult your doctor or contact the help center offered by the American Psychological Association. Your doctor or psychologist can help you learn to cope more effectively so that you can feel better.