How to overcome the holiday blues
The holiday season isn’t always filled with cheer. For many, this is a time that triggers depression and anxiety brought on by feelings of loneliness, loss, financial strain or stressful family reunions.
According to the American Psychological Association, “holiday blues” are real and more common than you may think. While it might seem like everyone around you is filled with joy and merriment, this can also be a very stressful time of year.
We asked Dean Aslinia, department chair of our counseling program at University of Phoenix and President-Elect for the Arizona Counseling Association for advice on how to combat holiday depression. This is what he had to say:
- Be kind to yourself
Don’t beat yourself up if what you feel doesn’t align with what you’re “expected” to feel. Acknowledge your feelings and schedule time for self-care. “It’s okay to have some alone or me time,” Aslinia says, “and you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking it.” Also, remember your body is your temple, so eat well and get plenty of rest.
- Get out and get moving
When you’re feeling down, resist the urge to mope around the house. Get out of bed and get your body moving. Incorporate light exercise into your routine. Even a simple greeting or brief interaction with strangers while running errands around town can provide a healthy distraction and lift your spirit.
- Control your spending
Don’t turn a blind eye on overspending. While excessive gift-giving can create short-term gratification, it will also cause long-lasting financial stress when you’re struggling to pay off your credit card debt. There are many ways to celebrate the holidays on a budget. After all, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones and not so much about material things.
- Know when to let go
“Sometimes it’s best to keep the peace than win an argument,” Aslinia says, thinking about those tough — and often uncomfortable — conversations that are bound to happen when family members with different views get together. Avoid polarizing topics such as religion and politics or find areas where you agree. Take a deep breath and count to 10 before responding, accept others’ views and know when to end the conversation.
- Seek professional help
If nothing seems to help, you should seek care from a licensed professional. UOPX Community Counseling Centers located in Sacramento, Southern California and Phoenix are a free resource that students, alumni, employees and the community as a whole may take advantage of. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) also offers free professional help 24/7 for those who may be feeling lonely or helpless during the holidays and year-round.
Remember, you have control over how you react to potentially uncomfortable situations. How you prepare for them will help you feel better during the bustle of the holiday season.
By Mariela Jurado, Senior Writer, University of Phoenix