The holiday season is a time for joy, family, and celebrations. It is also a time when the holiday blues creep in, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to Psychology Today, SAD affects 10 million Americans. The major symptoms of SAD include feeling hopelessness, fatigue, irritability, and increased sensitivity to social rejection.
Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, it is believed that the dark and short days of winter play a major role in affecting our mood negatively. The social and family pressures during the holiday season are also believed to contribute to the feeling of overwhelm and sadness.
If you are, or know somebody who is, experiencing the holiday blues, here are some ways to beat it.
1. Limit alcohol and avoid overeating- Ok, alcohol and food are the staples of the holiday season. But they are also the staples of self destruction when consumed over the limit. Alcohol can amplify any negative thoughts you might have, making your depression worst while overeating will affect your mood. Limit the amount of alcohol you have at home and have a friend hold you accountable to the amount you consume at holiday events.
2. Be open to starting a new tradition- So, the holidays didn’t turn out exactly how you planned it? That gives you the chance to try something new! Obsessing over your imagine of what the holidays should look like means missing out on the holiday that you actually have. Be present and open to new traditions that could evolve to be your favorite traditions.
3. It’s ok to indulge…on a book, a trip, the latest workout craze… – If you have a lot of time on your hands because you couldn’t be with family this year, then use up that time to finally read that book you’ve been meaning to read. Or take that trip you’ve been meaning to take. Or try that new workout you’ve been meaning to try. Take some time just for yourself and use up the time to finally do some of the things you’ve been meaning to do all year.
4. Make a point to give– This goes beyond exchanging gifts at work for Secret Santa. The type of giving we’re talking about is one where you get nothing in return but the satisfaction of giving. Give your money but also go further and give your time. Volunteer and make other people’s holiday better! Their cheer will spread to you.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help- Last but not least, remember to always, always ask for help. Reach out to family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers if you’re struggling with seasonal or non-seasonal depression. Mental health is one we should take as seriously has our physical health. There are countless people who are going through what you’re going through. Don’t suffer in silence, alone.