Written by: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist
Ready or not, the holiday season is here again! Shopping malls are decked out in tinsel and lights, and radio stations have begun to play round-the-clock festive tunes. There's no denying it: the season of good tidings is officially upon us.
For many people, this truly is "the most wonderful time the year" - the holidays are a time of togetherness, celebration, and generosity of spirit. It's a time for reconnection and lightness of heart. Yet, in the midst of all the holiday spectacle, many folks will find themselves experiencing a little less than "good cheer". In particular, research has shown that an increase in depressive symptoms is not uncommon around this time of year. Often dubbed "the holiday blues", such depressive symptoms may include (but are not limited to): increased feelings of sadness, loneliness, grief, fatigue, stress, and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms may emerge as the result of any number of stressors. For example, stressors can include:
- Financial pressures related to gift buying
- Expectations about the "perfect" family get-together
- Increased family conflict and/or distressing dynamics amongst family members (or perhaps the absence of family members and loved ones, altogether)
- The "hustle and bustle" of time constraints and a generally hectic pace (including traveling on a limited schedule, navigating crowded shopping malls, etc.)
There are a number of tips available online for coping with the holiday blues. For example, the Mayo Clinic offers 10 suggestions for minimizing holiday stress, including: making a budget in advance, acknowledging your feelings, setting boundaries, and reaching out for help as necessary. You can read the rest of their tips here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/MH00030
At New Roots Therapy, we hope to offer one simple message to those of you experiencing the holiday blues: in this season of generosity and kindness, don't forget to be generous and kind to yourself as well! A gift of permission to take it easy on yourself might be just the thing you need to reconnect with the joys of the holiday season. "Taking it easy" might look differently for different people. For example, it could mean limiting your spending, or deciding not to travel this year, or asking for extra help with food preparation. Whatever it means to you, we're hopeful that you'll take the time to reflect upon your own needs during the holidays, and give yourself permission to practice generosity with yourself.
If you notice that your depressive symptoms are lasting longer than the holiday season (i.e., longer than two weeks), or you have concerns that you might be experiencing clinical depression, you may wish to consider speaking with your family doctor or mental health care provider.
If you wish to speak with one of our therapists, please contact our office at: