The season is here to rejoice, to surround ourselves with loved ones that help make the yuletide joyful. Both the young and old schedule time to celebrate the magic of the holidays. It is a wonder of lights, carols, and trimmings that begin on Thanksgiving followed by a whirlwind romance created by the enchantment of Christmas and New Year’s. The beautiful sounds and scenes of the season fill everyone with happiness. Well, not exactly everyone.
For many men and women, this time of the year poses difficult feelings, far from blissful. People coping with the holiday blues experience unpleasant emotions that take them on a brief period of melancholy. The day-to-day sadness or anxiety can come from perseverating thoughts of a less than perfect Christmas, being alone during the particular season, or the stress and pressure of overspending. There are a number of triggers sparking the sadness during a period driven by intense emotions. You may feel like you’re being pulled from multiple directions leading to a dismantling of the psyche. The temporary state of distress is enough to cause anyone to crawl into a ball at times.
Recently, I attended a webinar given by Ariela Vaserman, PsyD, a New York licensed Mental Health Professional. The talk was useful in clearing misconceptions about the blues. I was under the impression the blues were associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD); however, this does not seem to be the case. Vaserman explained that SAD is not a milder form of depression, it is a subtype of depression.
Although there is some overlap in the various symptoms such as both reflecting fatigue, change in appetite, negative thoughts, and lack of energy, these disorders are not interchangeable. The holiday blues should not be confused with SAD which is depression related to the Fall and Winter season. The suspected cause of this disorder is a deficiency of light. It is reportedly more common in women than men, particularly in the Northeast. Most importantly, SAD is not directly correlated to the holidays. Holiday blues usually dissipate once the season ends.
If you find yourself feeling a little blue there are some actions to take in order to improve the mood. A key suggestion would be to stay away from mood-altering drugs, caffeine, or alcohol which can cloud judgment.
Exercising and staying active are helpful to release the good endorphins that will lift your mood.
Sleep is crucial to replenish the mind and body. Don’t underestimate the power of sleep, as it regenerates all of you.
Take pleasure in the things that make you happy. Participate in activities that bring out the best in you. Try spending time with people that make you feel good! Keep friends and family near that bring joy — this quality time can help raise your spirits. Engaging in positive behavior whether it is using daily affirmations or quotes is also a great way to psych yourself into a better mood. Shifting thoughts can improve your mood, give it a whirl because it is life-changing.
Lastly, remember thoughts can make or break you. Life is for living and we‘re lucky to get a chance to experience it. One breath and step at a time, rejoice in the moments that make you feel alive. Happy Holidays!