It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” But do you find yourself not feeling so merry and wondering how to get over holiday blues? With all that’s going on around the holidays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. All the buzz and excitement can create additional stress on your time and your budget. It brings back memories of holidays past – pleasant and not-so-pleasant. We tend to miss loved ones that are no longer present to celebrate with us more at this time of year.
With all this going on, it’s no wonder that the holiday blues can leave us feeling down. I know there are several people that I miss each year around the holidays, but I’ll tell you what I do later on. First, let’s look at what exactly the holiday blues are and what might make you feel better.
What are the Holiday Blues?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, holiday blues are temporary feelings of anxiety and depression. They are linked with extra stress of the season, memories that the holidays trigger, or unrealistic expectations.
That’s actually a very helpful definition when we look at how to get over the holiday blues. Did you see that first part? They are temporary. When you’re feeling down, it helps to know that you won’t always feel the way that you do now and that it will pass.
Holiday Blues Statistics
Sometimes it also helps to know that you are not the only one. Here are some notable statistics about the holiday blues:
- 88% of Americans say they feel stressed during the holidays
- The top 3 reasons that people report struggling with holiday blues are not being around loved ones, seasonal depression, and grief
- More women than men admit to being affected by the holiday blues
- Holiday stress has more of an impact on middle lower income individuals.
- Some negative emotions felt during the holidays include fatigue, irritability, sadness, and stress
Related: 7 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas
Holiday Mental Health Tips
If you are struggling with your mental health this holiday season, check out these holiday mental health tips to help you learn how to get over holiday blues!
Find a Supportive Group
There are several different types of support groups. They can be a formally set up group that meets on a regular basis, or it can just be a group of supportive friends. No matter what kind of support group you choose, it can help to know that you are not alone. Sometimes just having someone to talk to can be a good way to boost your mental health and beat the holiday blues.
Not everyone feels comfortable sharing their feelings with other people. Journaling can also be a great way to deal with holiday stress and process your inner feelings. Something about just dumping it all out on the page stops it from running rampant in your brain.
Don’t Assume the Worst
It’s really easy to assume the worst when you are dealing with other people. While what you are thinking might be true, it also might not be. You will be happier if you give the benefit of the doubt. When you find yourself assuming the worst this holiday season, stop and ask yourself “Do I know that’s true for a fact or do I just think that it could be?” This will help you separate fact from fiction.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Alcohol does a lot to the body and the brain. One thing it does is it interferes with the brain’s connection pathways and may affect your mood and behavior. It also makes it harder to think clearly. It’s also a depressant. Too much can actually cause more anxiety and stress.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Loneliness is a beast. It’s linked to a host of increased physical and mental health issues. There’s no more profound loneliness than knowing that other people are gathering with their loved ones and feeling left out. Even if you’re feeling down, take care not to isolate yourself. It will only make things worse. Reach out to a friend and ask if you can get together for lunch. Do something nice for someone else. Find some way to make a connection with other people.
Stay Away from Emotionally Upset People
At the same time, be careful who you are around. If you are around emotionally upset people and you are an empathetic person, It will likely make you even bluer.
Stick Closely to Your Routine
Routines bring us stability. During a time of year when we are often doing things we don’t normally do, stick to your routine whenever you can.
It can be hard to manage our expectations during the holiday season. There’s a push to go and do everything and buy everything. Christmas is heavily commercialized. (Which I don’t like.) But what I do like is that more people stop and think about God than at any other time of the year. His praises are being sung. I like that a lot. But at the same time, I know that we are not going to be able to do all the things. We may go look at Christmas lights, but maybe we’ll skip the train ride and the carriage ride. That’s ok because your holiday should be a reflection of the things that matter the most to you and that you enjoy doing the most.
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Actionable Tips to Get Over the Holiday Blues
In learning how to get over the holiday blues, there are many things that you can do. Some of these holiday blues tips go hand in hand with the holiday mental health tips above, but these are more focused on actions that you can take.
There are lots of opportunities to volunteer around the holidays. Volunteering helps you feel good because you are doing something for someone else and it also connects you to other volunteers. It gets you out of the house as well so you do not isolate yourself. While we all need understanding and compassion, sometimes I’m in need of a good kick in the pants to get over something too. This is a good opportunity to work and refocus your mind on doing good.
Attend Free Holiday Events
If volunteering is not your thing, most communities have several free holiday events. Attend one or more of them. It will get you out of the house and may help lift your mood. Look for things like Christmas parades, community meals, plays, living nativities, or simply google “free Christmas events near me” You might be surprised at what you find! (I just did it and found there is a world-championship chocolate gravy cookoff near me! Who knew??)
Watch a Holiday Movie
Holiday movies are kind of classic. THere might be one that your parents always used to watch or that you remember as a kid or from when your kids were little. Enjoy simply “being. Snuggle up on the couch with a warm blanket and hot drink and relax to your favorite holiday movie.
Build a Snowman
Not everyone has snow. I think the last time we had snow for Christmas was over 10 years ago – BUT you can always make a snowman out of craft materials if you don’t have any outside your door. It’s fun!
Check out this video if you want to make fake snow, which makes this a really fun sensory activity no matter how old you are!
Have Realistic Expectations
Write down your expectations. What’s really important to you this holiday season? Holidays don’t have to be perfect and they are not a performance. Sometimes they are messy and don’t turn out quite as we envision them, but you can still make some really great memories!
Make New Family Traditions
You know those family traditions that you do every year? There was a first year that someone tried them. What new family traditions do you want to start? Last year we started Christmas day with a prayer of gratitude before we opened our gifts. It helped us to remember to be thankful to God for all his blessings. A new family tradition could be anything.
Get some Exercise
There are many mental health benefits to physical activity. Exercise is one of the most underused anti-depressants. Exercising outside is especially effective if you can squeeze it in while the sun is up.
Find Positive Ways to Remember Loved Ones
I have so many good memories of the holidays at my grandparents’ houses. All those chairs are empty now, but I have still found ways to remember them. For example, I use my grandma’s tablecloth on my table. My Pawpaw made the decorations that I put on the table and other places around the house. I remember them and I’m so thankful for the memories that I have with them. I know that I will see them again one day, and I think they would be happy that I remember them this way.
I love going in the store myself and shopping, but sometimes shopping online is just easier. You can find exactly what you want and have it delivered to your door or to your family’s door if they live far away. For many people shopping online saves a lot of hassel and frustration. Amazon also allows you to make lists that you can share with other people, making it a good way to communicate some of your own Christmas wishes!
Extend an Olive Branch
If part of your holiday blues comes from an issue or disagreement that you have with a family member, do something about it! Extend an olive branch to them. They might be missing you as much as you are missing them. Stubborn pride gets in the way sometimes, but life’s too short to not forgive and to hold grudges
Make Your Favorite Holiday Treat
We all have treats that we associate with the holidays. Pick your favorite one and go make it!
Stick to a Budget
A large part of holiday stress often comes from fear of overspending. Make a budget for your holiday gifts and stick to it. It’s always better to stay within your means than to go into debt trying to “keep up with” or impress someone.
The Last thing You Need to Know About How to Get Over Holiday Blues
Holiday blues are something that almost everyone will struggle with at some point in their lives. It’s hard when you can’t be with your loved ones or when you are missing them during a time when you feel under more stress than normal. One of the worst things you can do is to isolate yourself and not talk to anyone. Please don’t do that! Things will be better when you feel most supported. Do something that will have a positive impact on your mood. Find positive ways to remember loved ones, like I do reusing some of my grandparents’ decorations. Extend an olive branch if family tensions have you down. Remember that your holiday is not a performance. It’s a time to spend time with your family and friends. Go out of your way to do something nice for someone and be thankful for the people that are there.
What’s your best tip on how to get over the holiday blues? Leave a comment below!