Bummed Out for the Holidays
Here’s the truth: the holiday season doesn’t make everyone feel holly jolly. In fact, some folks make like Elvis Presley and have a “Blue Christmas” every year like clockwork. The sight of lit up trees, holiday decoration displays, and the sound of hearing Mariah Carey croon “All I Want for Christmas is You” one more time while they shop for groceries may incite a whole range of Grinch-like thoughts and emotions.
Of course, nobody wants to feel like a Scrooge, especially when the holiday season is meant to bring us closer to our loved ones while we celebrate the spirit of giving. All is supposed to be merry and bright… right? So, what’s the deal with these holiday blues?
First, many of us who are living in Wisconsin are already battling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to darkness falling at 4pm and long months of being stuck inside because of the cold weather. SAD shares many of the same symptoms as clinical depression, but tends to have a seasonal pattern that can be experienced in winter OR summer. With less daylight, people who live with winter-pattern SAD can experience sad/depressed feelings, sleeping or feeling more tired than usual, having low energy, withdrawing from socializing, not feeling interested in their usual hobbies, and more. It’s estimated that more than 10 million Americans experience the effects of SAD every year. You can learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder by clicking here.
In addition to Seasonal Affective Disorder, while the holidays can feel like a reason to celebrate for many people, for others it can feel like a melancholy time characterized by sadness, loneliness, stress, anxiety, feelings of emptiness, and depression. For some, this may be their first holiday season after the loss of someone important. Others may be experiencing conflict with family members or other loved ones, leaving them feeling isolated during the holiday season. Some folks will experience anxiety about traveling home for the holidays or might be feeling “low” for seemingly no reason at all.
Even people who love the holiday season (the same people who turn on Michael Bublé’s Christmas album before Thanksgiving dinner is even cleared from the table) are not immune to the holiday blues. Unrealistic expectations, struggles with boundaries or perfectionism, high stress, lack of self-care, a crammed scheduled, and more can cause even the most dedicated holiday season lover to feel a little blue or frenzied instead of cheerful.
From financial woes to the depths of grief, there are plenty of other reasons one may feel sad or stressed around the holiday season instead of joyful. You never know what somebody may be experiencing inside of their mind in response to the ups-and-downs of life’s varying circumstances.
A Little Help Please?!
Does any of this sound familiar? The good news is that you’re not alone, and there are plenty of things you can do to take care of your wellbeing. With the holiday weekend approaching quickly, a few of Foundations Health & Wholeness’ licensed counselors have offered their best holiday season self-care advice for you!
Tyler Robertson, LPC: “Pay attention to your body: Drink water when you’re thirsty, sleep when you’re tired, take a break when you need to take a break, stop eating when you’re full. If you are having a hard time recognizing these things, take time to talk it out with someone you trust. Holiday blues often come down to physical needs not being met consistently, but sometimes it’s illness, depression, loneliness, or so many other things. And remember to stay hydrated!”
Joanne Klysen, M.A., LPC: “Focus on holistic self-care! Exercising/moving your body, eating (mostly) nourishing foods (no one here is opposed to a Christmas cookie), staying hydrated, getting rest, and being mindful of your boundaries with loved ones. It’s also helpful to find holiday activities that you enjoy. I love looking at all the pretty holiday lights and decorations!”
Franchesca Vasquez, APSW: “Embrace a gratitude practice that works for you. Looking for the positive helps shift our perspective and allows us to more easily see the good around us and more fully appreciate it.”
A few more tips? Be sure to watch your alcohol intake, learn to say “no” so you don’t stretch yourself/your schedule too thin, stay connected to the people you love (as opposed to totally isolating yourself), and ask for support if you need it, especially if you’ve experienced recent loss or heartbreak. Your loved ones will want to support you through trying times! If your blues persist and have you feeling concerned, it’s important to ask for help, talk to your loved ones, and make an appointment to check in with a trusted medical provider.
The Gift of Self-Compassion
Above all, remember to practice self-compassion by being gentle with yourself and mindful of your self-talk. Self-care differs from person to person, so be sure to find a healthy routine that works for you and feels enjoyable. A little care goes a long way for your overall wellbeing.
From all of us at Foundations Health & Wholeness, we wish you a very happy and safe holiday season. Take care!
Until Next Time,
Maggie, Grants & Content Manager
Reviewed By: Joanne Klysen, M.A., LPC
NOTE: If you’re struggling, please dial 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for help and support. Your life matters.❤️