How Do We Face the Holiday Blues?
It's important to normalize feeling down - especially during a challenging year.
By: Kalee Beal, Organizational Trauma Informed Care Specialist
Even during the most normal of years, the holiday season is filled with a number of stressors. Many people report feeling what some call the “holiday blues.” During the time of the year that society tells us we should be at our most thankful and joyful, we sometimes feel just the opposite. Why is this time of the year so hard for some?
Like with anything that impacts our mental health, a number of factors contribute to why this season can be so difficult and stressful.
First and foremost, as the seasons change, we have less daylight, it is colder, and the weather often prevents time outdoors. Feeling down, less motivated, and depressed are all things that may occur as we transition from colorful fall to winter.
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs primarily during the winter and affects roughly five percent of the population. Additionally, individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety may feel that their condition worsens in the winter and that the holiday season is particularly rough.
Planning anything during 2020 has been stressful and scary, and now, as we enter the holiday season, planning traditional holiday get-togethers has an added layer of stress. Anytime we plan an event or plan on attending an event that is outside our routine, we tend to stress. Holiday events are out of our routine, and the people we see at these events or gatherings may also be people we are not used to seeing. Anytime something is out of our routine, there is a chance for additional stress and anxiety. This is normal. One of the other factors that can make the holidays additionally stressful is the added financial stress of gift-giving, planning large meals, or traveling.
I think that the best thing that people can do for themselves during the holiday is to remember to give themselves space and grace to feel however they want.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to have the perfect holiday experience. We look at social media and see picture-perfect holiday events and tables overflowing with expertly plated food, ornately decorated homes and people gathered together smiling and laughing in beautiful holiday clothes.
We compare ourselves to these images and when we fall short, we feel like we did not do enough or that we are not good enough. The reality of it is, we will never be able to compete with perfectly curated holiday images, and yet year after year, that is what we strive for. Motivated by social media and the expectations of our loved ones, we can wear ourselves ragged, and yet we wonder why we aren’t feeling over-joyed.
For many of us, the holiday season can be a reminder of the things we do not have and the people we have lost. This is hard. But remember that the holiday season is about showing the people you love what they mean to you. Remember - if you feel the holiday blues this year, give yourself space and time to feel your emotions, and remember that there is no shame in seeking help.
You are human, after all.