“I hate the holidays! Not really, but the holiday season is my worst time of the year. No time for myself, no time to get things in order at home, work piles up, the kids are acting as though they are the center of the universe, and my husband says that the holiday plans and preparations are mine to manage as always!”
How often have you heard someone say those very words? Maybe you have read about families disintegrating during the holidays or maybe, you have family members, sisters, brothers, mother, father who seem different during the holidays, short tempered, acting selfish, not wanting to extend themselves, argumentative, or staying out late and not involving themselves in holiday planning.
What Causes Holiday Blues or is it Depression?
Many factors can cause the “holiday blues” such as stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension. People may also develop other stress responses such as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating and difficulty sleeping. Even more people experience post-holiday let down after January 1. This can result from disappointments during the preceding months compounded by the excess fatigue and stress. (Mental Health America)
What is depression?
“Depression is a disturbance in mood characterized by varying degrees of sadness, disappointment, loneliness, hopelessness, self-doubt, and guilt. These feelings can be quite intense and may persist long periods of time. Daily activities may become more difficult, but the individual may still be able to cope with them. It is at this level, however, that feelings of hopelessness can become so intense.” (Dr Frank Lozano, foamcage.com) http://foamcage.com/mental-health-in-sacramento/what-is-depression
What are the blues?
It’s been an awful couple of days. Nothing seems to be going your way and you wish you could have stayed in bed today. Maybe that would help you get over the gnawing emptiness that’s been plaguing you.
“I think the difference between just having the blues and depression lies in the symptoms,” said Raymond Crowe, M.D., UI professor of psychiatry. “If ‘the blues’ persist for more than a couple of weeks and are accompanied by trouble eating, difficulty sleeping, or suicidal thoughts, you should see someone.”
Plan, don’t hurry, stay calm…forget expectations!
We all need to develop coping skills during the holidays:
- Don’t wait until the last minute to formulate who is to receive what gifts. The monies needed during these difficult economic times can also become a challenge to accumulate, but if you just don’t have what you consider enough money, then allow yourself to cut back on the spending.
- Don’t buy the trendy items. Do your shopping at the discount stores or make gifts. People love to receive homemade gifts such as crafts or paintings. Include family members and ask them to make gifts to give to friends and family. Make the experience a family activity.
- If you feel alone in your efforts and no one seems to care, call a family meeting and ask for help. Make a list of what needs to be done and when and then ask for volunteers or assign the tasks. Don’t make it a family holiday season when you are the only one doing the work. Family means all family members not just you. This means cooking, house cleaning in preparation for guests, shopping for gifts and groceries, and sending gifts to those who are not nearby.
- Don’t skip meals because you are too busy. After all, during stressful times you need energy.
Most of all, relax and enjoy being with your loved ones and be thankful for what you have. There are so many out there who have little to nothing. And above all remember to smile!
Resources: Depression during the holidays