Holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, are usually the most awaited events of the year. It is a time when families gather for are union with relatives and friends. While it is a time for gift-giving and merry-making, it can also be a source of stress and depression. During these times, when the whole world is in a spirit of celebration, there are some people who can only wish there were loved ones nearby to share the season with. Think about the senior citizens in welfare homes, those convicts in jailhouses, the doctors and nurses who are on duty and cannot come home to be with their loved ones. There are those whose loved ones are long gone or have recently departed and coping with their loss can be unbearable during this season. Even the loss of job during this time can cause depression. Being hard-pressed to buy presents for loved ones can lead to stress and anxiety.

Ways to combat the blues

Keeping humor up and having realistic expectations help a great deal in being in tune with the holiday spirit. The National Mental Health Association recommends that you take care of yourself first and foremost. Setting realistic goals for the holidays and keeping your expectations simple for yourself and everyone else is the key to avoid stress and anxiety brought about by the occasion. Do not make the mistake of spending more than you can afford to avoid facing a huge credit card debt after the holidays that can certainly lead you to more troubles and worries. Since the holidays last for more than one day, pace yourself and spread your activities throughout the season.

Don’t spend the holidays confronting relatives about past conflicts, but instead, extend grace and show kindness to forgive and forget. Holidays are not a good time to tell your parents your hurts for their neglect. If you want to resolve issues, wait till after the holidays to bring them up again. That doesn’t mean you should bottle up all your feelings. Seeking out a sympathetic family member or friend can go a long way in keeping your sanity.

 While overindulging on sweets and carbohydrates may feel comforting at the time, the after effects can make you moody later. Same with drinking alcohol to excess. Try to continue your fitness regimen to burn off the calories from the holiday dinner.  If you don’t have time to go to the gym, take a long walk with a friend to alleviate some stress.

For those who don’t have close friends or relatives nearby with whom to share the holidays, reaching out to others may make you feel more in tune with the holiday spirit. Try to volunteer help to someone who can’t get out to shop, serving food in a soup kitchen, or inviting over other friends who are far away from family may make you feel less lonely.

Recognize the signs

 Be wary of family members who are using more than normal amounts of alcohol, pain medications, or sleeping pills. Be vigilant when someone is acting confused, can’t concentrate, seems lost in the midst of family affairs, or can’t seem to stop crying.

 Feelings of despair or apathy that don’t go away for two weeks or longer may lead to depression and needs professional help. The typical symptoms of depression include a sense of hopelessness, boredom with or lack of enjoyment in activities that were previously pleasurable, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, thoughts about suicide, and difficulty concentrating.

The National Mental Health Association reminds us about life being full of changes. “Consider what is important in your life and the good about these times.” Experience will tell you that those who’ve had the holiday blues in the past that they usually subside once you jump back into a regular routine.


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