Do you know more than half of Canadians report that their mental health is affected negatively because of holidays? For most people, a holiday brings happiness, but for some people, it can make them depressed, anxious, and stressed, which we call "holiday blues".
The difference between holiday blues and clinical depression or anxiety is that holiday blues are temporary feelings of anxiety and depression during the holidays while clinical depression or anxiety is persistent for more than 2 weeks. This guide will provide you with practical tips and advice for maintaining maximum happiness to tackle holiday blues.
What are the symptoms of Holiday Blues?
During holidays, you might feel:
Loneliness or isolation
Sense of loss
What are the causes of Holiday Blues?
- Staying away from family and friends
- Having bad memories of family fights during holidays
- Afraid to say no to invitations
- Financial stress of buying gifts for friends and family
- Fatigue due to staying up late to prepare presents and parties
- Stress because of trip planning, shopping, and finding childcare
- Shorter daytime during winter
How to maintain happiness during holidays or ease holiday blues?
Take a break
Review your achievements
Find your community
Eat a healthy diet & get enough sleep
Do things that make you happy
Set a budget for holiday presents
See a counsellor
1. Take a break
Many people do not rest when they should. They might want to catch up with work and school or earn more money using those extra time, so they choose to roll over their paid vacation for the year. It is now time to use up all your saved vacation pay. Give yourself a break for at least 5 days a year. Use the break to ease the stress accumulated in your mind over the year. Even if you are staying home during the whole break, your mental health can still improve a lot.
2. Review your achievements
Instead of being stuck in bad memories, you can choose to think of something you did successfully in the year. You can review all your achievements such as work accomplishments, good grades for exams, connecting with friends, joining a competition, winning a prize, going to a concert, going hiking once a week, etc. Please do not make plans for the upcoming years during holidays since making plans can add more stress to you. Holidays are for happiness.
3. Find your community
Please do not isolate yourself when other people celebrate the holiday together. Give a call to your friends or family to make connections. You can share your interesting stories, feelings and thoughts with them. You can also invite them for dinner or a party. If you cannot reach your loved ones for some reason, find a community that fits you the most online or through community centers. Connecting with new friends will also ease the feeling of loneliness effectively.
4. Eat a healthy diet & get enough sleep
You can increase your energy level by choosing a healthy diet. Increasing your energy level will significantly prevent depression. Change of appetite and excessive drinking of alcohol are symptoms of depression and stress. An irregular schedule during holidays can make you stay up late and not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep will increase the risk of depression, stress, and anxiety. Therefore, make sure you get enough sleep during the holiday.
5. Do things that make you happy
The easiest way to maintain happiness is to do things that you enjoy. During the holiday, you can eat foods you like, gather with your family, listen to music, watch a movie, hug a pet, or play games with your friends. Spending time doing things you like allows you to relax and forget about the stress.
6. Go outside and exercise!
Sunlight time becomes shorter and it becomes cold in winter. Studies show that a lot of people become depressed and stressed because they are exposed to shorter daylight and stay most of the time indoors due to the cold temperature. Make sure you go outside and get some fresh air, hang out with friends, or hike at least once a week to enjoy the sunshine. It might look daunting, but unless it's blizzard conditions, it's probably good for you to get outside; maybe try to get out for a stroll during your lunch. Enjoying a walk in the park in winter can be a refreshing experience. Snow and ice can be intimidating but proper footwear and warm clothing can be a strong antidote to the fear of getting out. Dress for the weather and get some natural vitamin D when you can!
7. Set a budget for holiday presents and trips
If you are worried about spending too much on preparing holiday presents for friends and family due to financial issues, set a budget to ensure the cost does not overwhelm you. Having a budget in place will help you say the magic word: 'No'. You can say 'No' to yourself when you are at the store and you can say 'No' to expensive holiday trips that you might not actually have the money for. When you know exactly how much you have to spend, you will be much less likely to get carried away with overspending. A good holiday present does not have to be expensive or luxurious, the gift just needs to show your care and love to the person who receives it.
You might get invitations for expensive winter holidays; like a ski-trip for example. These holiday trips might be a great experience, but if you don't have enough money for it, then the stress and anxiety of overspending will end up souring the experience. If you have a budget, you will be able to make better financial decisions about your holiday spending and won't be beset by stress and anxiety after the holiday's credit card bills come in. You can be generous with your gift and holiday budget line item, but once you set your limit, make sure to follow it.
8. See a counsellor
If the symptoms of depression and anxiety become severe and cannot be controlled by the self-care tips above, seek help from a professional as early as possible. Counsellors at Nuway are all well-trained to design a treatment plan for you according to your unique situation that will work effectively. Some people might think that they will not need to continue to seek counselling after they feel better after seeing a counsellor a few times. Try to be patient with the treatment plan designed for you as the root problem will not be resolved and can reappear if you give up the curing process halfway.