Tips to deal with holiday, post-holiday blues
1/6/2022, 6 p.m.
Holiday depression, also called the “holiday blues,” is a real thing, and it can last long after the holidays. It affects 1 million people every year.
Sometimes, this can lead to suicide.
Men and women, young and old all fall victim to feelings of sadness, loneliness, anxiety, guilt and fatigue during this emotionally charged season.
The Men’s Health Network offers the following 10 suggestions to help you identify and ward off or, at least, better cope with potential sources of holiday depression.
1 – Acknowledge that you’re hurting. Acknowledge your pain, be open and honest with others, refuse to feel guilty and get help if necessary. It’s OK to laugh. You won’t be struck by a bolt of lightning for laughing. Remember, a closed mouth won’t get fed.
2 – Have a plan to deal with your feelings. Try to surround yourself with people who care about and support you. Invest in an exercise program. Activities such as walking, running, cycling,
etc., are recommended because of their mood-elevating ability. Learn to say, “No.” Others’ expectations are not a reason for your own mental health to suffer. Set realistic expectations.
3 – Take time for yourself. Make yourself a priority. Getting enough rest, eating and drinking in moderation, ex- ercising and continuing other favorite activities can maintain normalcy, routine, control and predictability.
4 – Consider that your depression may actually be caused by this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, occurs because of reduced exposure to sunlight, which happens during the holiday season when daylight hours are shorter. Check with your doctor to see if light therapy might be beneficial.
5 – Help others. Soup kitchens, homeless shelters, nursing homes, churches and scores of other organizations can always use volunteers. You’ll benefit from the company of other people rather than being alone.
6 – Bury the hatchet. Perfect families don’t magically appear during the holidays, but family conflicts can. “Letting go” and forgiving can help heal past wounds.
7 – Start your own traditions. Both families and traditions change with time. Rather than reminiscing about “the good ol’ days,” accept the fact that change is necessary, grasp things as they are now, look forward to the future and create your own family traditions that can be enjoyed and even preserved for future generations.
8 – Keep your alcohol intake low. Remember, alcohol has a depressive effect on the nervous system, so if you are experiencing holiday blues, drinking too much will only worsen your depression.
9 – Re-dedicate yourself to your spirituality. Step back, slow down and refocus on transcendent, eternal matters. Re-dedicate yourself to spiritual pursuits such as church attendance, prayer life and other disciplines.
10 – Connect with proven resources and effective treatments for depression.
This can help you find a solution that improves your life. It can be difficult to handle depression on your own, so talking with your family and friends can be a first step. You also can consider connection with your doctor, a mental health professional such as a therapist, your local Veterans Administration medical center or veterans center or a spiritual or religious advisor.
Here are some helplines:
• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: www.samhsa.gov or (800) 662-HELP (4357).
• Veterans Crisis Line: www.veteranscrisisline.net or (800) 273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255. (Open to veterans and non-veterans.)
• National Suicide Prevention Life- line: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or (800) 273-TALK (8255) or text HELLO (741741).
ALPHONSO GIBBS JR.
Advisory board member, Men’s Health Network