Beating the Holiday Blues: Tips for Making the Season Brighter

Monday, December 07, 2009 | 07:41am
NASHVILLE – For many people, the holiday season is a time for visiting friends, exchanging gifts and simply enjoying the hustle and bustle of shopping malls and seasonal festivities. But for others, the season is not so blissful, especially during tough economic times. It is not uncommon for people to feel down, low, and without energy, suffering from a condition labeled the “holiday blues.”
Unlike other forms of depression, the “holiday blues” last only a brief period of time, usually surfacing around Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year’s Day. Three main factors contribute to the onset of holiday depression:
Relationships. People often feel alone or isolated during the holidays for different reasons including separation from loved ones or a loss of family members or friends. Family issues can often intensify during the holiday season, often times bringing on unwanted conflict. These relationship triggers can also be accompanied by unresolved grief or anger. Also, as people age, they may start feeling more alone as they look back and remember past holidays shared with family and friends.
Finances. Purchasing gifts, traveling and attending holiday parties may put a larger dent in the pocket book during the holidays than at other times of the year. During the holiday season, these increased financial expectations may cause individuals to feel unwanted stress. Economic conditions, including the state of the real estate market and high unemployment rates, are added concerns.
Physical Demands. Physical stress may be increased by events such as shopping at crowded malls, preparing large dinners, and attending multiple holiday events. People often ignore their healthy lifestyle habits this time of year by indulging in high-calorie holiday foods, neglecting their normal exercise routine, and not attending to personal needs for rest and sleep.
Here are some useful tips to more healthfully cope with the holiday as the season begins to unfold:
• Eat a healthy diet and, if drinking alcohol, do so only in moderation.
• Exercise and get plenty of rest.
• Implement a budget that is reasonable and preplanned.
• Ask for the support of friends and family, or seek community and volunteer opportunities.
• Relax and let others share some of the responsibilities for holiday tasks.
“One key thing to remember is that, if feelings of the blues, sadness, or anxiety persist past the holiday season, please consider contacting a mental health expert or agency as soon as possible as you may be dealing with a more serious condition that should be addressed,” stated Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Virginia Trotter Betts. “This year is especially tough for so many people due to the downturn of the economy. It is so important not to overspend, to set a budget, and chose only gifts within your means. The gift of yourself and spending time with others is really what is meaningful for all.”
For educational materials or additional mental health information, please contact TDMHDD’s Office of Communications at (615) 253-4812 or visit

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