How to Avoid the Holiday Blues

‘Tis the season to be jolly and filled with good cheer!  While the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ is here, the added stress of the season may be a burden on your mental health.

While we’re counting down the days of the calendar year, many are feeling the pressure that the season brings: lack of time, increased spending, never-ending obligations, gift-giving, and gatherings with family and friends.  Some people find joy in the chaos, while others find that the countdown to the new year triggers anxiety, depression, and a negative effect on their overall wellbeing.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of individuals living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays.  Whether you are missing a loved one, dealing with a difficult time, or even overwhelmed with holiday stress, don’t lose your ‘happy’ this holiday season. 

How can you avoid the blues this holiday season?

Give yourself the gift of being present.  So much of the holiday season is focused on making sure you have made a list, checked it twice, and met your own unrealistic goals.  Don’t be afraid to schedule time for yourself to be aware of the little moments that can be filled with joy.

Keep it simple.  While there’s no harm done in enjoying the season, avoid overcomplicating your plans.  Prioritize the activities that are meaningful to you, such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, and sending greetings.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’.  Know your boundaries and know when you have to limit yourself.  Invitations are not obligatory and know that you have the power to graciously decline when you’re stretched too thin.

Create new traditions.  There is no such thing as the ‘perfect holiday’.  Learn how to embrace the unexpected and allow new traditions to unfold as you create new memories.

Prioritize your rest.  Balance your work, play, and holiday celebrations with downtime, self-care, and most importantly, adequate sleep.  

Surround yourself with loved ones.  Look for festive activities in your local community or invite those close to you to gather for a fun night indoors.

Get involved.  If you’re unable to be with friends or family this holiday, seek out other opportunities that will allow you to gather with others.  Volunteer for a nonprofit organization, or lend a helping hand at your local soup kitchen.

When should you seek help?

If your days aren’t merry and bright, know that you aren’t alone.  Seasonal depression is a very real thing that is experienced by many people.  It’s a known fact that environmental factors, such as the seasons changing, can play a role in your mental health.  Something as minuscule as your day feeling shorter due to reduced hours of sunlight can have an impact on your mental health.  

If you’re dealing with feelings of anxiety, depression, or harmful thoughts, there are ways to manage your symptoms and get the help you need. 

At Integrative Counseling Services, we have licensed mental health professionals that offer one-on-one, personalized counseling services, and resources throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

If you believe Integrative Counseling Services can help you or a loved one, or if you or your organization wishes to learn more about our offerings, please reach out to our main office at 570-955-5479.

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