Feeling Down Over the Holidays? How to Beat Holiday Blues

by Nelly Uhlenkott on December 9, 2012

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The holidays aren’t a joyous time for everyone. For some people, the holidays are full of grief, loneliness and heartache. Feeling down at this time of year is sometimes referred to as the “holiday blues”, but that phrase may not capture how difficult the season can be.

Are the holidays often a struggle for you? If so, there are some steps you can take to make the season easier to handle.

1. Remember That the Holidays Will Pass

If you’re experiencing grief, loneliness or depression, it may feel like there’s no end in sight. It can be helpful to remember that the holiday season will pass, and that those feelings naturally transform over time.

If there’s been a pattern in your life of feeling down during the holidays and starting to feel better again in the new year, it may be useful to keep that in mind – you’ve survived this before, and you can do so again. If this is the first difficult holiday season you’ve had, it might be helpful to know that it’s common for people to struggle with the holidays if they are spending the season alone for the first time, or if they have recently had major changes or losses in their lives. People often start to feel better once the holidays have passed. Remembering that it’s transient can make the season feel more tolerable even while you’re still in it.

2. Self Care

Engaging in self care is especially important if you’re going through a difficult time. Find activities that are nourishing or comforting for you, and make a point of doing them. You can also improve your mood, energy levels, and overall wellbeing by taking care of yourself through getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. Those may sound like near-impossible tasks if you’re not feeling well, but anything you can do to look after yourself will be helpful. Do what you can, and be kind to yourself if not everything goes according to plan. Self compassion is key.

3. Make Plans in Advance

It can be useful to identify some activities that might bring you pleasure during the holidays, and to schedule them into your diary in advance. For instance, if there’s a film you’ve been wanting to see, or an event like a sports game or a concert that would seem exciting at another time of the year, make a specific plan to attend. Pick a particular date and time if there’s more than one option. Activities like these may not seem appealing if you’re feeling down, but they could be useful for boosting your mood and providing some structure to your day during the holidays. Planning them in advance can help ensure that they occur.

4. Connect with Others

Isolation can make tough times feel even tougher. Having contact with others can make a big difference to your wellbeing and help you get through the holidays. If you tend to withdraw from others when you’re struggling emotionally, it may be useful to include social events in the activities you plan in advance. There are many ways to connect with others in this day and age; although seeing others in person is ideal, speaking on the phone or chatting online can also help.

Of course, the holiday season may feel difficult precisely because you’re spending it alone or feeling isolated. If that’s the case, there are other ways to find connection with people. Seeing a counsellor or psychotherapist can be another way to have support and connection, and can also offer a space to discuss the struggles you’re experiencing.

5. Know that Help is Available

As mentioned above, support is available through counselling or psychotherapy. There is also crisis support available if you’re feeling hopeless or suicidal during the holidays. Lifeline provides 24/7 telephone support on 13 11 14.

The team at Paul the Counsellor offers counselling and psychotherapy to individuals and couples in the Melbourne CBD.

0458 090 687
253 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000

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