Overcoming the Holiday Blues
The holiday blues occur between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and is accompanied by depression and anxiety symptoms. These symptoms occur because of unrealistic expectations of how families should be, demands of holiday parties and events, financial strain of buying gifts, reminders of past losses, holiday overeating, and the pressure of preparing your home for guests. Two-thirds of women suffer from holiday blues, and is common among singles, widows, and couples who are childless. These populations are affected more because most activities are centered on family. It can be a painful reminder to them as they ponder the people they have lost, or the families they have never had. Holiday blues affects Christians and non-Christians as well.
It is important not to repress how you feel. There is a healthy way to express grief without letting yourself wallow in self-pity. Denying your emotions and stuffing them, can exacerbate depression and anxiety. Some people choose to self-medicate through heavy alcohol and drug use. While some isolate themselves because they do not feel festive.
Helpful tips for overcoming holiday blues:
1. Own your feelings. Do not deny them but express them through journaling, talking to God about them, and/or allowing yourself times to cry. Crying can be healing and it allows a release from the pain. Do monitor the frequency of crying, if you are crying continually and cannot stop this can be a sign of something more serious.
2. Do not force yourself to attend every holiday event, party, or social gathering. Pray about the ones that would be uplifting to you, and decline the rest of the invitations. Do what you can do, and do not feel guilty for what you cannot.
3. Take time for yourself. Take some time to rest, and do something you enjoy.
4. Take care of yourself. Exercise, preferably walking, this is one of the best exercises to reduce stress and depression. Eat balanced meals with fresh fruits and vegetables. Try as much as possible to stay away from fried foods and sugary sweets. Take a good multi-vitamin and drink plenty of water.
5. Try not to have unrealistic expectations for your family. Accept them where they are at, and do not compare your family to other families or what you see on those sappy Christmas movies. If you have had a recent loss, childless, or have a prodigal child-be extra gentle on yourself. Let others take over the heavy load that can come with holiday entertaining.
6. Set a realistic budget for buying gifts. Look into baking homemade goods or crafts as gifts.
7. Keep connected to the life source, Jesus Christ. Have daily time communing with God, and getting quiet before Him. Let God bring you the comfort that you could not receive from anyone else.
As the winter season approaches, it is common for people to have an increase of depressive episodes, most often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD); and then the holiday blues on top of that can be difficult to handle. If you are feeling suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, it is time to have an evaluation by a medical doctor. This is serious, but also very common during these times of the year. Spending time with God can help reduce depression and anxiety, along with praying and surrendering your thoughts.
If you are feeling blue, depressed, anxious, or suicidal, please don’t give up. You are not alone, Jesus Christ who died for all of us, does love you. He does see you and He will bring help. Say out loud, “Jesus Christ does love me and every spirit of depression that is working against me must flee in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Take it one day at a time and remember to breathe!