Beat the Holiday Blues
The songs of the season say it is the most wonderful time of the year. So why do so many people get the “holiday blues” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day? There are many reasons why this merry time can also be difficult. Take extra care of your mental health to help make it a happier holiday for yourself.
The American Psychological Association* says 44 percent of women and 33 percent of men report feeling stressed during the holiday season. Many things can trigger stress, including anxiety over family gatherings, financial worries and more. The loss of a loved one can also make the holidays feel bittersweet by bringing up memories of that person.
Many people get these symptoms of the holiday blues:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of irritability
- Situational sadness
To protect your mental health during the holidays, stick with the wellness and self-care routines that make you feel better all year. There is no need to wait to make New Year’s resolutions. Go ahead and embrace a healthier lifestyle now. Get plenty of sleep, manage stress and pay attention to your mental health.
Get enough sleep
Most adults need at least seven hours of quality sleep each night. About one-third of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep.
For a more restful night, experts say you should:
- Maintain a consistent routine.
- Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, quiet and dark.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine or large meals before bedtime.
- Limit screen time before bed.
- Get some exercise during the day.
Many people use breathing exercises for relaxation and better sleep. The 4-7-8 method is just one example. Start by deeply exhaling to empty your lungs. Then inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale slowly for a count of eight.
Stress management is also central to mental health during the holidays. The Mayo Clinic* offers these tips:
- Stop anxiety in its tracks with deep breathing. This interrupts the “fight or flight” response triggered by a stressful event.
- Try a guided meditation. There are many helpful videos online.
- Reduce your social media time. Instead, connect in real life with friends and family.
Feelings of depression
Combined with the stress of the holidays, the cold, dark winter months can also bring on feelings of depression. Depression is a mood disorder that can cause long-lasting feelings of sadness and can affect your daily life. If depression is affecting you, talk to your doctor. Many people benefit from psychotherapy, medications or a combination of both.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, seek help right away. Call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Take care of your mental health this holiday season and close out the year on a good note, ready to take on 2024.
*The American Psychological Association and Mayo Clinic are independent organizations that offer health information you might find helpful.