The Holiday Blues

If you Google “how to beat the holiday blues” you will stumble upon hundreds of “quick and simple steps” to get over these said blues. I am apprehensive about how quick and simple these steps are in reality for many of us who may struggle with a mental health condition.

Anyone who lives with mental illness could probably tell you how time consuming and difficult the symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar, or another condition are. For many, these symptoms may be amplified during the holidays and look like headaches, insomnia, intense sadness, severe family conflict, and a range of other things. Even if you are not diagnosed with a mental illness your experiences with these symptoms are still valid. The fact that we cannot always “beat” this pain in a couple quick and simple steps is a hard truth to hold.

But what is also true is hope. Hope says that there are people who love you and support you no matter how bad you feel. Hope asserts that you can and will make it through the holidays, one day at a time. Hope is real and help is out there.

Don’t let oversimplified tips on how to feel better overwhelm you this season. If you’re helping a friend or a family member through this, sit with them in the heaviness of what they’re experiencing. Walk with them through the dark they’re in. That in itself is so powerful, especially during a time when there is an enormous amount of pressure for everything to be light and joyful.

When you’re ready, take some steps towards taking care of yourself. If you are a friend or family member of someone experiencing the blues take note of these points. In a national survey on the “holiday blues”, 64% of people say they are affected and 24% of people say the holidays affect them a lot. You are not alone in this and you are definitely not alone in seeking help. Some self-care ideas can include:

  • Acknowledging your feelings; realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief sometimes

  • Getting enough sleep at night

  • Spending quality time with the people who care about you the most

  • Eating and drinking in moderation

  • Even if it’s cold, getting outside and taking a walk! The sun still comes up in the winter!

  • Making a to-do list so you don’t become overwhelmed by the amount of tasks you have

  • Listening to your favorite music

  • Doing what feels good for you and helps you relax

  • Seeking professional help if you need it; if you feel these blues are more than just blues be sure to reach out for help.

Remember, it’s okay to feel down during the holidays. You don’t have to fake it. Take care of yourself and hold onto the possibility that things can get better. Find the help you need. Have hope.

Written by Leah Rolando, MSW Intern, NAMI Wisconsin