The holidays are a lot of fun, but for many, they aren’t all silver bells and caroling. In fact, lots of people report experiencing worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety during the holiday season. If you’re one of them, this article is here to help. There’s no reason for you to spend the merriest time of year feeling unhappy, and it turns out that the real reason for the holiday blues may not be what you ever expected.
Are the Holidays Really the Problem?
There’s a long-standing idea that the holidays are the most depressing time of year, but there any actual substance to this theory? It’s true that for many people who are lonely or struggling, the constant Christmas visuals of happy families and holiday togetherness might be more irritating than inspiring. And it’s true that for many the holidays also tend to crank up the stress, and cause people to try to do too much, which in turn affects their overall well-being and ability to sleep, which in turn negatively affects their mood. However, all things being equal, there is no data that proves that the holidays cause a rise in depression rates: in fact, depression actually is at its highest in the springtime. So if the holidays don’t actually cause depression, what’s the cause of the well-documented winter blues?
The holidays themselves aren’t always the reason for the blues people experience this time of year. It might very well be due to Seasonal Affective Disorder, which has the very apt acronym SAD. Basically, SAD is the result of the reduced daylight hours that naturally occur during the winter. People at higher latitudes tend to experience this disorder more acutely, due to the fact that the days are shorter and night comes sooner. If you’re having trouble sleeping or experiencing negative changes in your moods, SAD might very well be the issue. If SAD is making you miserable, try using a sun lamp and increase your vitamin D intake.
Although SAD is the primary cause for a lot of the “winter blues” we’ve heard so much about, the holidays can also cause many issues for people who put too much pressure on themselves during this time of year. Constantly comparing yourself to others, especially in terms of comparing success or material wealth, is an easy pitfall to find yourself in. Also, alcohol and unhealthy food are everywhere during the holiday season, and the bad habits that develop during a month of indulgence may set you back more than you expect. Do everything in moderation, try not to exhaust yourself in an attempt to make the “perfect Christmas”, and try to keep your eyes on the true reason for the season.
I’m Jessica Cox, and I’ve chosen to spend my life inspiring others. I believe that adaptation is the key to having a happy and fulfilled life, and being born without arms taught me the importance of adaptation from a very young age. If you’d like me to share my story and adaptation strategies with the attendees at your upcoming meeting, conference, or religious gathering, please contact me.