Are Your Holiday Reds and Greens Turning into Blues?
December 10, 2007
Chellee Burson, Haskell County Extension Educator, FCS/4-H
Are you looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the sweet smell of holiday baking, yummy foods, familiar songs, family gatherings, laughter and sparkling decorations? Or do the holidays give you the “blues” and you just want the season to pass? If the latter describes the way you feel, you are not alone. Holiday stress is so widespread that nearly one third of all Americans feel great stress during the holidays.
Many factors can cause the “holiday blues”: stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions, and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension. People who do not become depressed may develop other stress responses, such as: headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping. Even more people experience post-holiday let down after January 1. This can result from disappointments during the preceding months compounded with the excess fatigue and stress.
On the positive side, about 70 percent of Americans take actions to reduce stress, so they can have good feelings about the season. If you find yourself feeling blue this holiday season, try one of these tips to help bounce back:
- Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Do not put entire focus on just one day. Remember it is a season of holiday sentiment and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
- Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
- Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in it’s own way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
- Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some time to help others.
- Enjoy activities that are free, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations; going window shopping without buying; making a snowperson with children.
- Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
- Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
- Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you have not heard from for awhile.
- Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share responsibility of activities.
Everybody gets the blues at one time or another. It is a normal part of life, but if a couple of weeks go by and you still feel “blue” or you just can seem to shake them, it’s time to check with your physician or other health care professional. Depression can be successfully treated, and the earlier treatment is started, the more likelihood of full recovery. So, if you suspect that you or someone else that you know is experiencing depression, seek assistance. Your family doctor or minister can recommend appropriate resources in your community or if preferred, they can make referrals to a professional in other locations.
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.