Beating the Holiday Blues When You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

By guest author, Laura Baker

Holiday Blues

Many people get a case of the holiday blues. Some feel sadness thinking about loved ones who are no longer with us, while others are impacted by the stress and anxiety of preparation or attending social events. Others may feel a sense of emptiness when the holidays are over in the blink of an eye after months of frantic preparation.

The holiday blues are even more difficult to cope with when you’re living with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that impacts some people during the winter. If you’ve been hit by a case of the holiday blues, use these strategies to cope.

Schedule Time to Take Care of You

As you’re filling up your calendar with holiday parties and other events, don’t forget to schedule time to take care of you. Set aside time for self-care activities such as a nap, time to read a good book, exercising, or whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. When you set aside time to continue the habits and routines that help you thrive throughout the year, you’ll feel more balanced and in control during the hectic holiday season.

Hire a Housekeeper

If you have the financial resources to do so, you might consider hiring someone to help with certain tasks. Whether keeping up with regular household cleaning tasks leaves you stressed, frazzled, and crunched for time or you’re struggling to carve out time to ready your home for a big holiday party you’re hosting, look for a local housekeeping professional who can take cleaning tasks off your plate. If hiring a professional is out of the question, you might enlist the help of one of your children or a family member in exchange for some holiday treats.

Don’t Over-Indulge on Food or Alcohol

Anything you put in your mouth can have a major impact on your mental health. If you struggle to stay positive during the holidays due to SAD, depression, or anxiety, healthy eating habits are even more crucial during the holidays and the winter months overall.

Take care to practice moderation when it comes to holiday cookies and cakes, and avoid over-indulging on alcoholic beverages at parties. Alcohol may seem to lift your spirits temporarily, but it can exacerbate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and SAD.

Find Something to Look Forward to After the Holidays

Many people feel let down after the holidays are over. You may be saying goodbye to family members or friends you don’t get to spend time with often, or you may feel disappointed if your plans didn’t turn out perfectly.

Try to let go of perfection and unrealistic expectations, and find something positive to look forward to after the holidays. By setting a goal or finding something exciting that you can look forward to in a few months, you may avoid the sense of emptiness that plagues some people after the holidays.

Set Bite-Size, Achievable Goals

Making New Year’s resolutions can give you something to focus on as the holidays wind down, but again, unrealistic goals and expectations can have a detrimental effect on your mental well-being. So, do set goals, but set goals that will take work but are easily achievable to give you a boost of confidence.

For instance, setting a goal to lose 50 pounds may seem so daunting and impossible that you lose your motivation before you get started. On the other hand, setting a goal to lose the first 10 pounds in the next three months is a more achievable goal. Break bigger, more challenging goals down into bite-size steps so that you can reap the benefits of achieving your goals, giving you the momentum you need to keep moving forward.

If you tend to feel blue during or after the holidays, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with the holiday blues and SAD, but you don’t have to let your symptoms take over your life. Find ways to better manage your daily demands while setting aside time to practice good self-care, and set realistic goals for the future that you can look forward to after the New Year.

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