“There’s so much emphasis on family and celebration, but it’s hard if you’re dealing with difficult memories or reminders that you’re not close to your family,” Sharon Melnick, author of Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident and Productive When the Pressure’s On, said, writes Richards. “It can feel like there’s a big gap between what other people are experiencing and what you’re experiencing.”
Not only do holidays provide normal stresses like added financial burdens, gift giving and family and social expectations, add in cold weather and a lack of sunlight and you have created perfect conditions for a “world-class funk,” she writes.
But there is a difference between seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is estimated to affect up to 20 percent of Americans and the “holiday blahs,” Richards notes.
“It’s important not to classify all winter doldrums as SAD,” Sarah Eckfeldt, a psychotherapist in New York City, told Richards. “Many people experience a drop in mood in anticipation of the holidays because they might be sad over a recent breakup or spending the first holiday after the death of a loved one and could benefit from talking to a therapist.”
The good news is that the “holiday blahs” tend to go away after the season is over. Richards offers some tips to survive the season if you find yourself with a case of these “blahs.”
- Seek social support. Make plans with a small group of friends, put a few events on your calendar to look forward to or explore a new activity that you have been interested in.
- Get to the gym. Make yourself go, even if you don’t feel like it.
- Don’t look at Facebook. Connect with your friends via phone or text message, talking only to the people who will lift you up.
- Reframe your thinking. Find opportunities to volunteer. Spend time doing what you enjoy.
- Remember that the holiday season will soon pass, You just have to make it to Jan. 2 and the season will be over.
“If you struggle with serious and continuous depressive symptoms, be sure to reach out to a healthcare provider to discuss your condition,” Richards writes.