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The holiday blues are temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season. There’s shopping, social events and expectations of a good holiday, and these pressures can be stressful. You may also missing loved ones or have negative feelings come back from past memories of the holidays. With all these events going on, you may forget about good nutrition or lack the motivation to participate in physical activity. All of these things and more can contribute to the holiday blues.

The holiday blues are sometimes associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but the two are not directly related. A person with holiday blues can also have SAD. SAD is a diagnosable problem linked to fewer hours of sunlight during the winter. People with SAD have symptoms of depression throughout the fall and winter. When someone has the holiday blues their symptoms will likely not be as severe as depression, and can usually be helped by reaching out for support. If you’re having a tough time starting the conversation, you can see the tips for talking to someone.

What are some symptoms of the holiday blues?

  • Tiredness, lack of energy or motivation
  • Tension
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness or isolation
  • Sadness
  • A sense of loss

What can you do to manage the holiday blues?  

1. Set aside time for yourself… Take the time to make sure you’re good! Engage in some self-care activities – get enough sleep, remember good nutrition and to stay active. Reduce stress with activities that relax you – taking a warm bath, playing with a furry friend or catching up on your favorite TV series.

2. …But don’t isolate yourself. While it’s important to take the time for yourself, it’s also important to spend time with supportive, caring people. You may also want to have a conversation with someone you trust about your feelings around the holidays.

3. Double check your holiday expectations. What you see on social media are (very) staged photo ops that don’t necessarily accurately reflect what is going on. Your holiday party may not be Pinterest perfect, but it was kept within budget with the people you care about. Your Instagram may not have the aesthetic you want, but it’s filled with reminders of happy times. You don’t need to live up to any expectation for the holidays!

4. Remind yourself of the meaning of the holidays. Don’t take things too seriously and remind yourself that this time of year is about sharing love and time with your loved ones and community. Use this time of year to reflect on yourself and be mindful in the future.

5. Don’t be afraid to say no. You have your limits too! You don’t have to fill up your schedule with all those holiday events if you don’t want to. This also includes being prepared to say no to spending money if you’re going over budget.

Remember that the holidays blues are short-term, and if you feel like it’s something you’re going through, that’s okay! Find the supports you need and take things one a time.

Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

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