Banishing the Holiday Blues

The holidays are upon us! For many this means joyful gatherings and celebrations. For others, however, the holiday season can be filled with stress, loneliness and disappointment – what’s known as the “holiday blues.”

The holidays can bring on feelings of loss and sadness for many. And these feelings may be intensified due to the prolonged pandemic.

There are many underlying causes of the holiday blues and symptoms may include headaches, insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, boredom and a general feeling of sadness.  The good news is that the holiday blues are often temporary and limited to the season; and there are steps you can take to help minimize stress, improve your outlook and feel better.

Here are a few tips to help with the blues:

*Prioritize exercise and sleep. Regular physical exercise increases our energy and releases endorphins which help improve our mood. Getting eight hours of sleep a night does wonders for your mood and anxiety.

*Maintain healthy habits. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and eat a balanced diet full of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

*Stay connected. Don’t underestimate the power of friends, family, mentors and neighbors. Talk about your feelings; it can help you understand why you feel the way you do.

*Volunteer. Helping others is a great mood lifter.  You can volunteer with a local charity, visit a local nursing home, or just spend extra time with an elderly relative or friend who needs help and support.

*Be mindful. Focus on today instead of worrying about tomorrow. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises and meditation will help you stay present and improve your mood.

*Schedule fun. Our mood improves when we have something to look forward to, whether it’s a Zoom call with friends, a walk with a neighbor or takeout from a new restaurant.

The holiday blues are usually temporary and mild but depression is more serious and can linger unless you get help. Signs of depression include:

  • Sadness that won’t lift
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Frequent crying
  • Feeling restless or fidgety
  • Feeling worthless, helpless, or guilty
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much

Don’t avoid the symptoms. If you or a loved one is showing signs of prolonged depression this holiday season, please reach out to a healthcare provider. Help is available and no one should suffer alone.

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