Keeping the Holiday Blues Away

Keeping the Holiday Blues Away

Though I love Elvis’s “Blue Christmas,” my daughter absolutely hates the song! She is six and thinks it is too sad for Christmas. Maybe it is, but Christmas isn’t just about joy and cheer—it’s also about remembering loved ones lost, those less fortunate than us, and plenty of other sad things, too. She’s not young enough to know that just yet, but most of us “get it” by the time we’re in our teens.

But these normal bittersweet feelings are sometimes joined by actual holiday depression. Many people get the blues this time of year, and for whatever reason, they just can’t seem to enjoy the holidays like everyone else can. Here are a few reasons why, according to Mental Health America:

  • Setting your expectations too high, whether they are about what you can get done, how much you can spend, or how much you get
  • Anxiety about the future, with a New Year approaching and the focus on past failures so prevalent
  • Loneliness, particularly if a loved one has passed away or you are single, divorced, separated, or otherwise alone for the holidays
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mild depression that develops when your body isn’t getting enough light (which may be treatable through light therapy)

Whatever the reason for your winter doldrums, there are several ways to keep them at bay. Though they may not help at all, it’s worth giving them a shot! In addition to light therapy, you might want to…

  • Keep the holidays as low key and relaxed as possible. Don’t volunteer to do every meal if you can avoid it; take turns with another relative. Set spending maximums to avoid too much shopping (and debt).
  • Share holidays with friends and family if you can. If you can’t, try to call or video chat with them if at all possible; and if not, spend the time with someone else, such as fellow volunteers at a shelter or food pantry.
  • Try to be hopeful about the future. Set a reasonable, realistic goal, such as calling a friend each month, or volunteering for your community. Make a list of all of the things you have to be grateful for, as well as at least ten things that you love about yourself.
  • Spend a little time relaxing, even if it just means lying on the couch for half an hour or taking a nap.