What are holiday blues?
Holidays, typically, resound with times of joy and happiness, a time that we look forward too. However, not everyone may have the same views about holidays. Some typically fret by the word holiday, not because they don’t like it but because how they feel during that time. Many people associate holidays with depression, anxiety, loneliness, a hollow and sadness; a time which becomes emotionally overwhelming for them and not something that they associate with joy, happiness and celebration.
This emotional overwhelming outlook to holidays is sometimes termed as ‘Holiday Blues’. It usually occurs during the holiday season i.e. around Christmas and New Year and lasts for a shorter duration. Holiday blues are not a recognised disorder, nonetheless it exists.
Holiday blues symptoms can vary from person to person and there is no clinical list as such. However, the list below presents some of the most prevalent symptoms:
· Lack of interest or pleasure in things that you normally enjoy.
· Fatigue and exhaustion
· Sleeping a lot, or not taking much sleep than you normally do
· Increased irritability
· Difficulty in concentration
· A feeling of depression, which was not previously there
Causes of Holiday Blues:
Stress: Stress arising from various aspects of one’s life can come to the forefront, as a result of over thinking, and make you feel sad and depressed during the holidays.
Dwelling in the past: Your past perceptions about your holidays can affect how you feel during the holidays, presently. These perceptions can arise from your past holiday experiences (good or not so good), past happenings or a breakup.
Financial constraints: Holidays are ideally viewed as flourishing times and any sort of financial constraint can easily make you depressed during holidays.
Avoiding socialising: If you avoid socialising and keep yourself aloof, that can simply intensify the feelings of loneliness and a depressed mood.
Lack of social life: On the other hand, not having people to socialise with can aggravate loneliness and feeling of isolation.
Perfectionist Holiday expectations: What is our idea of a perfect holiday can surprisingly be also the cause of our holiday blues. Having specific holiday expectations and not being able to meet them can cause dissatisfaction and sadness.
Missing Family: Staying away from family, and a desire to be with them in the holiday season, can make one feel unhappy and hence the blues.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of mood disorder characterised by a depressed mood and is associated to be caused due to less sunlight or a lack of sunlight. It mostly occurs in winters, a time which also coincides with the holiday season.
Strategies to Cope:
· Avoid isolating yourself: Isolation will lead you into a viscous cycle and will only enhance your loneliness and depression. Hence, try to seek company instead of purposely isolating yourself.
· Take a good nap: Sleep is essential for a healthy mind. Take good 8-9 hours sleep without under sleeping or oversleeping.
· Physical exercise: The mental health benefits of exercising are well-established especially for depression and will help you to stay active amidst those holiday blues.
· Avoid too much alcohol: Alcohol in excess can make us overwhelmed and emotionally unstable.
· Avoid overeating: Regulate your eating. Try not to binge eat as it may make you feel guilty later.
· Let go of Rigidity: Do not have rigid ideas about holidays. Be flexible in your holiday plans. Remember holidays are to Relax and not for extensive rigid planning.
· Keep your expectations Realistic: Sometimes having unrealistic holiday expectations can be the reason for your sadness (thanks to social media). Remember all that glitters is not gold and the real essence of holidays is feeling good from within and sharing that happiness with others.
· Be kind and do some charity: To share happiness and joy, consider doing some charity or helping someone in some way. Spreading love, happiness, joy and care will always bring back the same to you. Try it! And you would know.