Staying realistic can help avoid the holiday blues

Posted 11/21/18

Dear Ask A Therapist, With the holidays approaching I am finding myself feeling overwhelmed. I find it stressful and sad, and I don’t look forward to it. Is that normal, and what can I do about it? …

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Staying realistic can help avoid the holiday blues

Posted

Dear Ask A Therapist,

With the holidays approaching I am finding myself feeling overwhelmed. I find it stressful and sad, and I don’t look forward to it. Is that normal, and what can I do about it?

Dear Reader:

The holiday season for most of us is a joyous time of year full of celebrations and family, but for others it is a time filled with sadness, loneliness and anxiety. Some call it the holiday blues.

You’re not alone. According to a poll conducted on holiday stress by the American Psychological Association (APA), two-thirds of people said they felt stressed and fatigued, half felt irritable, and one-third felt sad during the holidays.

Some of the main causes for holiday depression and sadness include stress, fatigue, family gatherings, financial stress, unrealistic expectations and nutrition.

About 62 percent of Americans report feeling stressed about money, according to APA’s 2017 Stress in America survey, and during the holidays, with all the gift buying, entertaining and travel, money can become an even greater source of stress. Now is a good time to sit down and make a budget and then stick to it.

There are also a lot of high expectations with gift-giving, decorating and entertaining. Be realistic with your expectations. Plan ahead and be okay with saying no. Recognize your limits.

Family gatherings can also be stressful. Set aside differences for the holiday get-togethers and save the political conversations for another time.

Some nutrition experts feel that the increase of sugary foods can lead to depression. During the holidays there are more parties, which amounts to an increase in food and alcohol consumption.

Again, planning can help by drinking water before eating and then limiting the amount of sugary foods and alcohol. Don’t forget that alcohol is a depressant.

If you have had a significant loss during the year such as a divorce or a death, recognize that you are going to feel more feelings of sadness and loneliness. Lean on your support system. Doing something different and creating new traditions can help.

Most of all, take care of yourself. Don’t abandon your healthy habits such as rest and exercise. It’s all about balance and moderation. Holiday blues are usually temporary and go away when the holidays end. When it lasts longer, it could be a more serious condition such as depression and require professional help.

Lisa Von Colln, MA, LPC, RPT is a therapist in the Early Childhood Program at the Community Reach Center located in Thornton. This column is for educational purposes only, and opinions are not necessarily those of this Colorado Community Media and answers are not a substitute for regular or urgent medical consultation and treatment.

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