Banishing the holiday blues

The holidays are a time of celebration and creating precious memories with your family and friends. But if you find yourself not in the best mood as the holidays approach, you might be experiencing a bout of the holiday blues.

There are many reasons some people experience depression around this time whether it’s because of holiday stress, missing loved ones, dealing with family conflicts, stretching yourself financially thin or celebrating without a loved one, says Taryn Moss Atlin, a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at Ryerson University.

Common symptoms of the holiday blues include:

  • lack of interest/pleasure in things once enjoyed
  • decreased motivation
  • change in appetite
  • change in sleep pattern
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling guilty
  • feeling fatigued
  • low-energy

But these symptoms differ for everyone and if you’re feeling emotionally down one day, it doesn’t mean you have the blues, she stresses.

Keep yourself cheery during the holidays with these tips:

Manage expectations

“There’s a lot of pressure for the gifts for the kids and a lot of comparisons among friends,” she says. “Have a conversation with the kids early on and do what is realistic in terms of buying gifts.” And don’t forget to take time out for yourself, whether it’s listening to soothing music or sipping a glass of wine and cozying up with your favourite book.

Be realistic

There may be more that needs to be done, but there’s still only 24 hours in a day. Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t have the time to handle any additional tasks. Some people get stressed thinking about what they didn’t accomplish that year, but instead focus on your plans for the upcoming year and how you’ll achieve them.

Stay healthy

It’s typical that gym routines and healthy diets go out the window when there are holiday parties to attend and gift baskets filled with junk food arriving at offices. If you’re saying up late to plan holiday parties, a lack of sleep can contribute to low moods.

Meanwhile, if you notice someone else getting down, try to encourage them to exercise. People don’t realize how helpful exercise can be to uplift a person’s mood, says Atlin.

Make sure they don’t isolate themselves and encourage them to plan activities with people, even if they feel tired or might not feel like it, she adds.

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