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Coping With Holiday Blues

For many people the holidays are a time of joy, fellowship with loved ones and optimistic hopes for the upcoming new year.  However; the constant reminder of what is "normal" to experience and how we should feel can cause many people distress, anxiety and depression.  These may be the triggers for many unresolved issues such as disappointment about our life circumstances at this time, unresolved grief over past or current losses, a sense of increased isolation and loneliness and more.

Whether we are looking forward to the holidays or not, it is a busier, more stressful time of the year.  Stores, traffic, parking is more hectic and the demands on our finances, energy and time are draining...this may contribute to the "holiday blues".

There are things we can do to create greater comfort for ourselves during the holidays.  First and foremost, understand that we are not helpless to change our beliefs, feelings and actions.

Making an effort to get out of the house and surround yourself with supportive and upbeat people.

  • Maintaining your daily and weekly routines (a leisurely walk and yes, stretching does count).
  • Eating healthfully and setting personal limits...maintaining awareness and making a plan for having treats can help you feel more in control.
  • Volunteering...it can be a one time opportunity that allows you to be of service and reduce isolation.
  • Calling an old friend or family member you haven't talked to in awhile and wish them a happy holiday (acting "as if" you are excited about the holidays may lift your mood).
  • Getting plenty of rest even if your sleep pattern is disturbed.
  • Pacing yourself.  Don't take on more activities , make more commitments, or try and do more than you can reasonably handle during the holidays.
  • Writing a gratitude list for all that you have...begin with the obvious things (ie; a place to live, food, a pet, etc.).  Then NOTICE how you feel, especially if your mood has shifted ever so slightly.
  • Seek professional help if you need it.  Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable, hopeless, and unable to face routine activities.  If these feelings last for several weeks you may have depression.

Written by
Sherry Warschaw, LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist

(c) Sherry Warschaw, 2015

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