5 ways to beat the holiday blues this season


There are a lot of reasons we start feeling down during the holidays. The chaotic shopping malls filled with last-minute shoppers. Remembering a loved one who’s no longer with us. Not being able to afford the items we want to buy for our family. Each person has a unique situation. But you can identify some of the common causes of the so-called holiday blues and change your thinking to make your days more ”merry and bright.” 

Five common causes of the holiday blues

1. Perfectionism and high expectations

If you tend to be a perfectionist, the holidays can be a very stressful time for you. You want your holiday season to be picture-perfect, when in reality things rarely work out as planned. You may feel depressed simply because you’re being too hard on yourself — and maybe on others too. 

What you can do:

To beat the specter of perfectionism you need to stop being so hard on yourself and instead savor the season. Terri Flint, PhD, LCSW, Director of Employee Wellness for Intermountain Healthcare, stresses the importance of savoring, 

“Savoring requires that you’re totally present in the moment and that you evoke multiples senses: sound, sight, touch, smell and taste,” she says. “It’s like taking a 3-D picture of a moment in time with such detail that when you look at it, you’re taken back to that exact experience.”

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What would happen if you began to savor more moments this season?  It will require you to slow down and find delight in the special events you’ve planned, but also in preparing those events. Instead of trying to make everything perfect, savor wrapping presents with love, seeing the twinkling lights, trimming the tree with favorite ornaments, and expressing appreciation and good wishes to friends and family. Savoring requires no more time, money or energy — but you may be surprised at how practicing this skill can increase your sense of abundance in all things. 

2. Loneliness and grieving

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be with the people they love over the holiday season. Spending the holidays alone, or away from someone you love, can amplify the feeling of depression. 

Social isolation is considered to be a major predicator of depression. Depressed people often avoid contact with others over the holidays, making the situation even worse. You may also be dealing with the loss of a loved one or a breakup. Feelings of grief can make it difficult to celebrate. 

What you can do:

If you’re feeling lonely, you need to push yourself to interact socially. It’s a great time to volunteer your time to make the holidays happier for others. Helping someone else is often the best way to change your perspective — especially this time of the year. 

If you’re experiencing grief, make sure to talk to someone about it. It’s okay to feel sad about a loss. Starting new traditions may be a good way to lift your mood. 

3. Lack of sunlight

The holiday blues could also be physiological. Wintertime usually means less sunlight during the day. Some of us may feel like we don’t see much sunlight during the winter months. This can lead to an issue known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Less sunlight means your body may not be getting enough vitamin D, and lower than normal levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression. 

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What you can do: 

If weather permits, try and get outside more often. You can also eat foods that are higher in vitamin D. Another good option is to take a vitamin D supplement if you feel like you’re not getting enough sunlight. 

4. Focusing on the year’s failures

As the New Year approaches we typically reflect on the past 12 months and what we do or didn’t accomplish. Reflecting more on the negative parts of your year will definitely bring you down. We tend to focus on the bad and not so much the good. 

What you can do: 

Instead of getting caught up in the past, try thinking about the future. The New Year is a fresh start and new beginning. Facing your failures and learning from them is certainly important. But dwelling on them is a bad idea. Make new goals and don’t be discouraged. This is a time to renew. 

5. Poor diet and lack of exercise

During the holidays your healthy diet and workout routine can take a backseat to everything else. This can compound your symptoms of the holiday blues, making you feel even worse. Not getting enough exercise can also increase feelings of depression. Exercise and staying active not only affect your mood, they also affect your sleep. Without enough sleep, we tend to feel more fatigued, stressed, and depressed. 

What you can do:

During the holidays, it’s important to be prepared when it comes to diet and exercise. Don’t throw healthy eating habits out the window. Try to stay on track with your diet and exercise regime. You’ll be amazed at what just a small amount of fresh air and exercise can do for your mood. 

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