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How to Beat the Holiday Blues

Jessica Pontis, LCSW

While the holidays are typically portrayed as something uplifting and joyous for many people this may not be the case.  For some the holidays may be a time of stress and heightened perfectionist tendencies, for others a time of grief over a family member who passed away, a few may feel the financial weight that comes with the pressure to give gifts and buy food.  Many may feel saddened by the lack of connection to family or community, or struggle with different ideologies sitting at the same table.  Yes, the holidays can be a fun time of year, but they can also be draining and at times depressing.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, more colloquially referred to as seasonal depression, is as old as the seasons themselves with about 10 to 20 percent of the general population impacted by it yearly.  Symptoms of SAD can include but are not limited to a drop in energy or mood, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, not wanting to go out or the desire to socially isolate, and a feeling of heaviness in the body.  These symptoms can become even more pronounced during the holiday season.  Here are some things that could be helpful in negating the impacts of the holiday blues.  

Limit Overconsumption

If there’s any time of year that suggests overconsumption it’s the holidays.  This includes overconsumption in many forms such as food, alcohol, and shopping.   Now is the time to really listen to our bodies and honor what they need.  If you recognize that drinking alcohol at family gatherings makes you feel worse it’s okay to say no to that glass of wine.  If you know that eating more than what your body wants makes you feel more lethargic then it’s okay to save that food for tomorrow.  If you understand that Black Friday shopping is more stressful than it is exciting, that’s a tradition you’re allowed to end if you want.  

Saying “No” may be Necessary

The holidays require a lot of time and energy, but we only have 24 hours in a day and limited social stamina.  If an invite doesn’t fit into your schedule or your needs, saying no may be something that you have to do on the front end in order to preserve energy for yourself on the back end.  

Continue to Prioritize your Individual Wellness Needs

There are some things in life with can sacrifice during the holiday season that fit well with us, but there are other things that remain non-negotiable for our wellness, things that we should not give up no matter the time of year.  These things could include solid sleep, nutrition, exercise, and hobbies.  Consider the things that you need throughout your week that you recognize would harm you if you sacrificed them for the holidays and incorporate them into your wellness plan.  

Find the Support you Need to Grieve

The past few years of our lives have been heavy with loss and collective trauma. I, unfortunately, know more than a few people who will be going into this time of year for the first time having lost a loved one.  There is no shame in reaching out to others for support to process and connect.  The holidays can be especially hard the first time without mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, or grandparent.  Pay homage to them and celebrate their lives during this time of year by doing a tradition they loved and surround yourself with people to honor them with you.  

If you feel that you would like to connect with someone to walk with you on this journey reach out to one of the licensed therapists with Symmetry Counseling.  You can reach out to us online at symmetrycounseling.com, or by calling us at (312) 578-9990 to set up an appointment.

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