Beating the Holiday Blues: December 26, 2011

Not everyone is ho-ho-ho-ing their way through the holidays. For many the mix of merriment can be downright miserable. 

“Holiday blues really is just the period of time during the holiday where there’s more expectations and more pressure and people start to remember childhood holidays and times where we’re supposed to be happy. Everything’s supposed to be joyous and its not,” says Dr. Oman Rieche, Director of the Behavioral Health Center for Lee Memorial Health System.

Any number of things can get people down. From lack of money to grief over a lost loved one, even divorce. But there are strategies to help beat the holiday blues.

“For example, not over drinking, not doing anything in excess, not being alone. Sometimes people get very, very busy trying to do everything and before the holidays end they end up over doing it and then really end up feeling worse,” says Dr. Rieche.

Too often people will hide behind a happy face, and pretend to enjoy the holidays, particularly if they’ve recently lost a loved one.

“Holidays without those that you really love, because they’re not here anymore, are not holidays anymore. They’re dreaded days,” says Dr. Rieche.

To manage grief, it’s important to have realistic expectations and stick to routines. And don’t feel bad if you need a break.

“Sometimes we all need alone, down time, and its perfectly ok to say to a friend ‘no I’m not going to go but call me tomorrow maybe we can do something tomorrow,” says Dr. Rieche.

For those struggling financially, try to keep the holidays from breaking your bank.

“Doing simple things that may involve being with friends, having company, doing things together outside. That doesn’t involve giving of gifts, but giving of time to each other is something more meaningful,” says Dr. Rieche.

If your blue mood persists or turns black, it may signal the need to seek professional help for more severe depression.