I don’t know about you, but I get extremely stressed and overwhelmed around the holidays. A time that used to be my favorite, doesn’t quite do it for me anymore. Christmas was a feel-good time. A time to enjoy holiday lights, hot chocolate, shopping in a decorated mall playing Christmas music, and cold weather. I was a kid back then, a teen with no responsibilities. There were no expectations, no pressure.
Now, as an adult, Thanksgiving and Christmas feel different. The expectations are there, pressure, more people to shop for which means more money being spent. However, I really like buying gifts. Gift shopping has become one of my favorite parts of the holidays, but the excitement I get from shopping doesn’t make me forget about the stress and anxiety I feel. I can’t ignore the holiday blues.
What is Holiday Blues?
Holiday blues refers to the feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression brought on by the holidays. It typically starts in November and can last until the new year. I notice the feelings creeping in around Halloween.
The stress, anxiety, and depression can be brought on by a number of different things and varies from person to person. Common causes are money, less sunlight, feelings of loneliness, high expectations, dietary changes, reflecting on the year and realizing you didn’t accomplish your goals, and many other things.
Individuals who already struggle with mental conditions are more prone to being affected by holiday blues.
Coping with Holiday Blues
As with anything, there is no perfect solution to avoid the blues this season. However, there are ways to cope and make it through the holidays without feeling completely unhappy.
Rediscover an old passion/hobby
One thing I’ve found personally helpful is finding my sense of style again. I know this is random and to some probably has nothing to do with the holidays at all. That’s part of the point. I needed to find something outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas to focus my energy on.
I’ve been thrifting and experimenting with different patterns and colors and dressing up when I have nowhere to go but my desk at home. But guess what, I feel so much better. I feel more productive, inspired, and overall happier. It’s been a great distraction.
If fashion isn’t your thing, think about something from your childhood that brought you joy that isn’t a big part of your life anymore. Reconnect with that old piece of happiness and see if you notice a shift in your mood.
I’m really great at procrastinating, which sucks when it comes to gift shopping and holiday plans. Last minute shopping is one of the things that brings me the most stress. To avoid having this happen, I’ve planned my gifts for practically everyone already.
Make a list of who you’re buying gifts for, a budget, and what you’re buying them. Even if you still wait until the last minute to make purchases, you’ll at least have a plan!
Another way to get ahead of the game is to decide on party and gathering plans early on so you know what your schedule will look like. This can help eliminate the feeling of uncertainty that contributes to stress and anxiety.
Self-care is important all year round, but spend some extra time making sure your needs are met and that you’re doing things that bring you peace. If you already struggle with depression and anxiety, it’ll be even easier for you to go on a downward spiral with the stress of the holidays. Some things you can do include exercising, saying no when you feel overwhelmed, spending time with people who care about you, or having an at home spa day.
Check out this self-care challenge calendar I created for self-care awareness month. Use it as a reference for other ways to practice self-care!
Though this may be a really stressful and dark time for some of us, just know it’s only temporary. Thanksgiving and Christmas are times to love and appreciate the beauties of life and family. They aren’t for us to attempt to replicate a Hallmark movie.
Lookout for yourself, check in on a loved one, and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or eggnog (if eggnog is your thing) in front of a Netflix fireplace. At the end of the day, we all just want to survive the season and enjoy it with as little drama as possible!
Until next time,
April at Choosing to Bloom