The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time of year. But for some, it can be an emotional roller coaster ride, while others just feel depressed the entire season.
There are a lot of reasons we start feeling down in the dumps during the holidays. Each person has a unique situation. But you can identify some of the common causes of the so-called Holiday Blues. Then you can find ways to change your way of thinking, as well as your lifestyle and nutrition to make your days more “merry and bright.”
5 Common Causes of the Holiday Blues
1. Holiday Perfectionism and High Expectations
If you tend to be a perfectionist, you may feel depressed this time of year simply because you’re being too hard on yourself – and maybe others too.
Sometimes we’ll talk about the “good old days,” remembering how the holidays used to be. We compare the current, hectic Christmas to our fond memories of the past. It’s important to realize how our memories play tricks on us.
We forget about all the imperfect parts of years gone by, and only our favorite moments come to mind. Or sometimes what was stressful back then becomes a funny story in the present.
It’s understandable that you want your Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza to be picture perfect. Let’s be realistic though…things rarely work out exactly as we planned. While that can be disappointing – the solution might be quite simple.
What You Can Do:
To beat this cause of holiday depression, you need to tell your perfectionism to take a hike. There’s nothing wrong with making a schedule for the holiday season. In fact it might help you out. However, you don’t have to live and die by that routine.
Learn to roll with the punches and remember that you are creating new memories. This is easier said than done…true. But the best Christmas moments are always the ones you never saw coming. Traditions are wonderful – it’s just that sometimes you have to make room for new ones too.
2. Loneliness and Grieving
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be with the people they truly love over the holiday season. Spending the holidays alone – or away from someone you really want to be with can amplify feeling of depression.
Just ask Elvis about his “Blue Christmas.”
Social isolation is considered to be a major predictor of depression. Depressed people often avoid contact with others over the holidays, making the situation even worse.
You may also be grieving the loss of a loved one or even dealing with a breakup. Feelings of grief can make it difficult to celebrate.
What You Can Do:
If you’re feeling lonely – you need to push yourself to interact socially. Instead of isolating yourself, attend church or community functions so that you are around other people. One excellent idea is to volunteer your time to make the holidays happier for others. Helping someone else is often the best way to change your perspective – especially this time of year.
If you’re experiencing grief – make sure you don’t keep those feelings bottled up inside. Talk about them with someone. It is okay to feel sad about a loss. Starting new traditions may be a good way to lift your mood.
3. Lack of Sunlight
The cause of your holiday blues could also be physiological.
Wintertime means less sunlight during the day. Some of us may even feel like we go to work when it’s dark, get home when it’s dark, and never see the sun. This can lead to an issues known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
You may lack energy and feel fatigued, experience low mood and feel indifferent to the world around you. That’s no way to go through the holidays.
Less sunlight means your body may not be getting enough Vitamin D. Lower than normal levels of the vitamin have been linked to depression, and it’s believed as much as 25% of the U.S. population has a Vitamin D deficiency.
What You Can Do:
Try to get outside more often if you are able. You can also eat foods that are higher in Vitamin D – including many types of fish.
Another good option is supplementing your diet with Vitamin D. Natural Healthy Concepts offers a wide variety of Vitamin D Supplements to help your body get that “Sunshine Vitamin,” even when sunlight is scarce.
4. Focusing on the Year’s Failures
The holidays also bring the end of the year. As the New Year approaches, we reflect on the past 12 months, how quickly they flew by, and what we did or did not accomplish.
Thinking too much about the negative parts of your year is a surefire way to start feeling depressed.
Missed opportunities, setbacks and emotional losses can seem magnified as you prepare to start another year. But maybe you’re just focusing on the wrong things…
What You Can Do:
Instead of looking towards the past – try thinking about the future. The New Year is supposed to be a fresh start.
Facing your failures and learning from them as you more forward is certainly important. But dwelling on them is a bad idea.
Make new goals and don’t be discouraged by your personal shortcomings. If you accomplished everything you set out to do – your goals were probably way too easy in the first place.
5. Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise
Your busy schedule and all that holiday food can mean your healthy diet and workout routine take a backseat to everything else.
That can compound those symptoms of the holiday blues – making you feel even worse. There is direct connection between your mood and your food. Read more about that in Mary Bloomer’s article about all-natural “Good Mood Food.”
Not getting enough exercise can also increase feelings of depression. Lack of exercise could be the reason you’re not getting enough sleep. Poor sleep will make you feel more fatigued, stressed and depressed. Plus, don’t forget how getting outside for some daytime exercise can help you absorb sunlight and Vitamin D.
What You Can Do:
Don’t throw healthy eating habits out the window during the holidays. Make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs. One way to do this is by making a Multivitamin part of your daily routine. You can also get nutrients from supplements with Whole Foods.
Remember, many natural health products are actually made from healthy food so you can replace what might be missing in your diet. You’ll find a lot of helpful choices at Natural Healthy Concepts.
For exercise…make it easy. You may not have time for an extensive workout routine. But try to commit to taking a quick, 20-minute walk each day. You’ll be amazed at what just a small amount of fresh air and exercise it can do for your mood.
More Good Advice for Battling the Holiday Blues
A common myth about the holidays is that there is an increased risk of suicide this time of year. In fact, the opposite is true. Suicide rates actually drop during the month of December.
However, if you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself, speak to someone as soon as possible and seek professional help.
If issues with your mood are becoming an ongoing problem in your life, you may want to consider different types of natural support. Natural Healthy Concepts offers a wide selection of Mood Health supplements.
The quickest cure for the Holiday Blues may be for all of us to snap out of our pity parties and think about other people. If you know someone who is feeling down, reach out to them and do something to make their holidays merrier.
The joy and satisfaction you’ll get from that will be better than anything!