When the holidays get you down

  • Thursday, December 21, 2017 2:11pm
  • Life

By Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care

“The holidays and beginning of a new year bring comfort and joy for many, but there are also a lot of people who feel out of sync with the holidays, experiencing loneliness, sadness, and depression,” said Brian Allender, MD, psychiatrist and medical director at Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care.

This time of year can be difficult for all of us. The stress and overwhelming nature of the holidays can bring up all sorts of emotions, especially for those already going through a hard time. According to Dr. Allender, there are strategies that can help minimize the stress and aftermath of the holidays, and help you enjoy this time of year, with a good start to the new year.

But first, why are we feeling this way? In the Northwest, there are many reasons why we might get hit with those “holiday blues.”

Loneliness is a common feeling during this time of year. If family and friends are not nearby, the distance can be particularly painful during the holiday season.

Days are also much shorter this time of year, which can lead to seasonal affective disorder in many people. The lack of sunlight can take a toll, mentally.

Finances play a big factor in contributing to the “holiday blues.” If your financial resources are limited at this time of year, you may not be able to give the gifts that you wish you could. It is even worse if your family is far away and you are unable to travel to them.

At the holidays, your thoughts turn to family members and friends who are no longer with us. The sense of loss you feel can spoil even the happiest of celebrations.

Many people experience pressure to feel a certain way during this time. When there is an expectation to feel one way, yet you actually feel another, there can be guilt and confusion.

People associate the holidays with their past experiences during this season. If you associate this time of year with a painful memory, it may be difficult to enjoy the holidays this year.

There are often high expectations for the new year to be different and better, but we may feel exactly the same.

Here are some strategies you can adopt to survive the holidays and post-holiday blues:

• Take note of what’s positive in your life. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can go a long way to improve your mood.

• Help someone else or volunteer. It’s hard to feel blue when you’re busy doing good for those around you. Volunteer at a shelter or food bank, or spend time with someone who needs it. This can help remind you what the holidays are all about.

• Create your own traditions It’s a great way to associate new memories with this time of year, and can get you excited to continue these traditions each year.

• Stay busy. Fill your calendar with events and keep yourself occupied and help you focus your mind in the moment. This can include exercise and getting into the sun, which both help fight any chemical causes that can trigger the “blues.”

• Lastly, it is most important to take care of yourself during this time. It is OK to say “no” – you do not have to do everything for everyone. And remember, it is OK to let yourself feel what you’re feeling.

More in Life

Bird watch

Auburn takes wing with return of Seattle Parrot Expo | PHOTOS

Auburn Eagles present Christmas bazaar Oct. 27

The Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary presents its annual Christmas bazaar on… Continue reading

Seattle International Comedy Competition coming to the Ave

The 39th annual Seattle International Comedy Competition returns at 7:30 p.m. Friday,… Continue reading

Entries sought for Auburn’s new Gingerbread House Contest

Ten best creations will be displayed and put up to a vote at the Community & Event Center

Auburn-area community calendar | Oct. 18

Events Auburn Tourism: For special events or to add a special event,… Continue reading

Auburn Community Players to perform ‘The Addams Family’

Nine performances set for October on the Ave stage

Auburn Symphony Orchestra presents fall concert, Pines of Rome

Oct. 14 program welcomes new music director, features renowned young violinist

Ryan Gosling plays astronaut Neil Armstrong in the film, “First Man.” COURTESY PHOTO
Museum of Flight hosts exclusive display of costumes and props from the new feature film

The Museum of Flight presents a special collection of costumes and properties… Continue reading

‘November Road’ is the nail-biter you’ve been looking for

Catch me, if you can! And the chase began, one of you… Continue reading

Auburn-area community calendar

Events Auburn Tourism: For special events or to add a special event,… Continue reading

‘A Healing Justice’ should be on your bookshelf

Your pup is a pretty respectable watch dog. If anyone merely considers… Continue reading

Pot poisonings on the rise in children

By Eddie Espanol, MD, MultiCare/For the Reporter Ever since the first recreational… Continue reading