Holding off the holiday blues

Though the holidays are usually a time of joy and celebration, for some people they can bring depression and stress, according to Mental Health America.

Holiday blues can have many causes, including stress, fatigue, limited finances, unrealistic expectations or loneliness. The pressures of shopping, entertaining, family get-togethers and overnight visitors can add even more tension.

Stress may cause people to become depressed, have headaches, drink too much alcohol, overeat or have trouble sleeping.

The American Psychological Association and other experts offer these tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:

  • Organize and prioritize your holiday activities. Be realistic about what you can do.
  • Accept that feelings of sadness and loneliness may be present during the holidays.
  • Do something for someone else, such as volunteering.
  • Try activities that are fun and free. Take a drive to look at holiday decorations, play in the snow or go window-shopping.
  • Avoid alcohol. It can make depression worse.
  • Spend time with people who are supportive and caring. Make new friends or contact someone you haven't seen for a while.
  • Take time for yourself. Don't try to be responsible for everything—let others help out.

In some cases, the holiday blues are caused by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is the result of fewer hours of exposure to sunlight during the winter months. It can often be treated with light therapy.

reviewed 3/1/2019

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