You can’t wait to see your family. You’ll return to the home you grew up in. You’ll eat well. You may have an extra glass of wine because you can sleep in. Sounds a bit like heaven. You’ve even purchased some special gifts for each family member. Nonetheless, you feel a sense of dread. You can’t put your finger on why. Perhaps you have a case of the holiday blues.
What Are the Holiday Blues?
The holiday blues are any number of feelings such as anxiety, depression, stress, or apathy. Their roots may be buried in a variety of sources, some which you may not even be fully conscious of.
Being part of the holidays usually means you’ll be interacting with family and friends. And when you watch your friends and family interact, sometimes this observation creates an odd dynamic, which accentuates what has changed in everyone’s life and what has not. Indescribable emotions are created.
You think that you should be at the height of happiness, but you are not.
Causes of the Holiday Blues
Potential causes of the holiday blues are far ranging. Here are some of the more common ones.
Disruption in Sleep Patterns
One thing that tends to increase depression and anxiety is poor sleep. During the holidays, folks tend to stay up later, which leaves them feeling tired the next day.
Doing Too Much in a Day
Last minute shopping. Visiting both sides of the family. Leaving late and trying to make up time on the road. Frustration and panic can result.
That Extra Glass of Alcohol
Celebrations often come with alcohol consumption. Over consumption leaves you feeling lousy the entire next day.
Guilt from Overeating
That gigantic piece of cake you normally would stay away from seems easier to eat during the holiday. Guilt can play a role in the holiday blues.
Unrealistic Expectations About Our Family
We love our families, which often leads us to overlook some of their shortcomings. We are often reminded of those shortcomings during holiday get-togethers.
No “Me” Time
There is so much to do, so many people to see, that we often forget to take a break, be by ourselves for a moment and just empty our thoughts.
Methods to Ease the Burden of the Holiday Blues
In the midst of the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in emotions. However, a little preparation will help you identify the onset of emotions. To prepare, try the following:
Look for similarities between you and Uncle Otis. You may be surprised how delightful Otis is when he is discussing his goldfish. If you maintain grievances, you bottle up all types of negative thoughts.
Just Say No
Know your limits and your boundaries. Don’t participate in every single holiday activity. Prioritize them and attend the ones you ranked the highest.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Keep your sleep patterns intact. Say no to that extra wine and those cupcakes. Avoiding guilt is avoiding the stress guilt causes.
Take a Time Out
Restore inner calm by stepping away from the action for 10-15 minutes. This will reduce stress and refresh your mind.
Allow Yourself to Feel
There is nothing inherently wrong with feeling a bit down. You don’t need to fight “negative” emotions. Forcing feelings can backfire on you. There is no reason you “should” always feel happy and thankful, especially during high-stress holidays.
If the Sun Comes Out, You Go Out
Twenty minutes of sunlight does wonders for the blues. Combine exposure with a brisk walk and these activities will combat many causes for your holiday blues.
Remember that Facebook typically highlights the good in people’s lives. It’s easy to forget this when looking at someone’s New Year’s Eve pictures from Jamaica.
You can’t compete with these human highlight reels. If you need to connect with someone then call them. One phone call to a good friend beats photos of people you barely know living it up at a vacation resort that you can’t even afford.
You Are in Charge of Your Feelings
If you feel the holiday blues coming on, remember: How you react to your feelings is entirely within your control. Sure, there may be some negative feelings, but those will dissipate if you concentrate on what there is to be thankful for this holiday season.