Holiday Blues

posted 12/1/2018 by Janet Eimers, LISW in Blog

Holidays are a time when families come together and it seems everyone is feeling joyful, spreading good cheer, and feeling grateful. But for many, it is a particularly difficult time to get through due to the death of a loved one, other losses or life changes, depression, or loneliness.

The following are some reasons for feeling the holiday blues:
  • The death of loved ones, grief, and depression
  • Other significant changes or losses, such as, divorce, illness, a move, loneliness, or empty nest
  • Being unable to join family due to various constraints
  • Or the opposite, being with family when there are unresolved conflicts
  • Unrealistic expectations, such as taking on too many tasks, feeling pressured to attend every event, and feeling responsible to make the holiday perfect
  • Distorted thinking, such as "all or nothing" thinking, feeling undeserving of joy, or magnifying problems
  • Financial constraints with pressures to buy beyond the budget
  • Stress from changes in normal routines, fatigue from meeting all of the demands, or weight gain from holiday overeating
The following tips may be helpful for the holiday blues:
  • Know that it is normal not to feel joyful when you are grieving losses
  • Maximize the number of supportive people you surround yourself with and minimize the toxic
  • Try not to isolate, but it is also okay to say "no" if you need to
  • Set realistic expectations by setting limits on tasks and spending
  • Plan ahead, make lists if you need to, and make it fun along the way to the holiday
  • Remember there is no such thing as a perfect holiday for anyone and the "holiday" is over in 24 hours.
You can also help friends or loved ones going through a difficult time during the holidays. Be thoughtful. Send a card with a thoughtful note or give them a phone call to see how they are doing. Ask them out for coffee or lunch. Any thoughtful gesture that shows you care. If your invitation is declined, don't take it personally. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated and remembered.

The holiday blues is normally seasonal and short-lived. However, if it is more than the blues and you are not coping well, see your primary care provider or a counselor. Anyone feeling suicidal should go to the nearest hospital emergency department or call 911 for help.

Janet Eimers has a 27-year history working in behavioral health and has been serving patients in eastern Iowa since 2005. If you are in need of a medical professional or counselor, call Covenant Clinic in Independence at 319-332-1540, and in Oelwein at 319-283-6153.