Is it the holiday blues, or something more?

December 02, 2015 | by Erin Terada, Psy.D.
On the outside, the holidays are glitter and lights, parties and gifts, warmth and family get-togethers.
 

On the inside, for many people, the holidays can be cold and dark, lonely and upsetting.

Grief, isolation from family or friends, bad holiday memories, stress or unrealistic expectations can let the air out of anyone’s holiday. It’s normal to feel down if you are overworked or missing loved ones while the holidays whirl around you.

When you have the holiday blues, you can often feel better with some tweaks to your daily routine:

Make sure stress isn’t weighing you down. Keep your schedule light, get enough sleep and eat well.

Plan something to look forward to. Even if it’s a solo walk around the neighborhood to look at holiday lights.

Get together with a few friends, even if you don’t feel like it. The social connection will give you a boost. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a toy collection. Helping someone else will lift your spirits.

Exercise, even if it’s dark or cold outside! Moving improves your circulation, gives you energy and boosts your spirits. Even better: exercise with a class. Try yoga, spinning or Zumba.

Spend some time planning the year ahead. Treat the holidays as a time to set goals and get ready for a fabulous new year.

Making these changes may just help you beat the holiday blues. Clinical depression, however, doesn’t come and go with the holidays. It’s much deeper than feeling bummed.
There are some common signs of depression to watch for – in yourself and in friends or family.

They can include:

- Feeling helpless or hopeless

- Loss of interest in daily activities

- Changes in appetite or eating habits

- Excessive sleeping or insomnia

- Difficulty focusing on something and making decisions

- Faltering school or work performance

- Failing relationships

- Suicidal thoughts or comments about suicide

Comparing the blues to depression is like matching apples and oranges. They aren’t in the same league. 

Do you feel persistently sad? Does your sadness affect you physically? Have you felt sad for two weeks straight? If this is happening to you, or if you notice any of these symptoms in a loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

The first step to feeling better is identifying the problem. Take our free, confidential behavioral health assessment.

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