5 causes of holiday blues and ways to prevent it

Holidays are typically regarded as a time of joy and celebration. However, whether you wait for the holidays or the weekends, this time can be stressful for some people. Stressing out during holidays is often referred to as holiday blues or holiday depression. This is a fleeting feeling of anxiety, stress, sadness, loneliness, and depression. Have you ever felt this and wondered what may be causing it? Well, it could be for a variety of reasons, and we have an expert to help us figure them out!

Even people who enjoy the holidays can experience holiday blues. It is usually a time of high emotions and demands, leaving a person unsure of what to do and how to spend the weekend! ACcording to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the holidays worsen the condition of 64 percent of people who already have a mental illness. Indeed, it can be difficult to get back into the swing after the holidays.

To learn more about the causes and effects of holiday blues on health, Health Shots spoke to Dr Shamantha K, Resident Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bengaluru.

Holiday blues are real, and common! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Dr Shamantha says, “Although it is supposed to be a time to make merry, holiday stress can be a trigger for most people. Holiday blues can be due to work-life stress or over-indulging in unhealthy foods or substances.” The other causes of these could be:

Here are 5 causes of holiday blues:

1. Trying to follow holiday traditions

There are many expectations surrounding the holidays. Many people associate the holidays with happy memories, social gatherings, and rituals. These expectations can cause anxiety.

2. Family pressure

Holidays are a time to be with family, and if you’re a family person who used to spend time with family, the holidays can be stressful. You may find yourself juggling multiple obligations, coordinating schedules, and adhering to holiday traditions, and due to this your day will be stressful.

3. Seasonal affective disorder

Some people experience major depressive disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern. This is referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD happens, especially in winter, when the environment is dark and the days are shorter.

holiday blues
Stress can manifest in various ways in our lives. Image courtesy:
Shutterstock

4. Finances

Holidays are also a time when you may be concerned about your finances. If you’ve already spent a large portion of your money at the start of the month, this can lead to financial stress.

5. Social pressures

Over-committing to someone and then failing to fulfill can put a strain on yourself. Along with this, avoid having unrealistic expectations for yourself, as both of these situations can lead to holiday stress.

Here are some signs of holiday depression:

  • Weight and appetite fluctuations
  • Stressed, worried, and anxious
  • Difficulties in thinking positive
  • Concentration problems
  • Sleeping patterns have shifted
  • Tiredness and irritability
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation when doing things you enjoy
  • A sense of loss
holiday blues
Managing stress is not rocket science! Small steps can make a difference. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s how to cope with holiday stress, according to Dr Shamantha:

  1. You should prioritize activities, don’t get overwhelmed.
  2. Do smart work, not hard work to avoid stress.
  3. Be mindful and avoid triggers, be it food, substances or people.
  4. Make a realistic agenda for the day and check your holiday expectations.
  5. Enjoy me-time, but don’t isolate yourself from your friends and family.
  6. Get plenty of sleep and rest well to improve your mood.
  7. Do not overschedule or overburden yourself otherwise you may experience an emotional breakdown.
  8. If you’re experiencing stress due to a loss of a loved one, try to get support.
  9. Practice meditation or yoga poses which can help you manage your stress levels.
  10. To get rid of holiday blues, do not overeat or eat unhealthy foods because this can affect your mood and overall health.
  11. Take a break

When to seek help for holiday blues?

Holiday blues is quite common nowadays due to our busy lifestyle. However, if this feeling is persistent contact your health care provider for help and guidance.