Can you believe that the holidays are already here? If you didn’t realize it because you’ve been in a fog, you’re not alone. 2020 has been anything but normal, and for those of us who have had to keep our distance from family and friends, times have been tough. The holidays, normally a time of cheer, could be bittersweet this year for some, as many are finding themselves already coping with the holiday blues in 2020.
Today, I want to touch on a serious subject that doesn’t get enough attention at this time of year: holiday depression, or, coping with the holiday blues. It’s not a pleasant thing to talk about, but I think many of us – or someone we know – will be going through it (or already are) as we say good-bye to 2020.
Yes, the Holidays are Here Already, and Coping With Those Holiday Blues in 2020 is Different Than in Past Years
As the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving (think pumpkin everything!) this week (although by the number of people already decorating Christmas trees, I’m guessing it is in full swing, and I’m just late to the party), I thought this was the perfect time to share some tips for coping with the holiday blues in 2020. Let me preface this post by pointing out that this is a general post about holiday depression during the holiday season, and I by no means want you to think I am here to provide medical advice. However, I am a Jewish mother, and by definition, that does qualify (insert chuckle), but I’m not a real doctor.
If you, a loved one, or family members feel the need for more support, even treatment for any depression – even postpartum depression – there are support groups that can suggest a program for you and provide additional information, as your particular situation may call for. There is sure to be a local clinic or rehab center that can offer assistance for something more serious than an affective disorder.
The Holiday Blues: Why is it So Common?
The holidays are a time of joy, laughter, and togetherness for many people, but they can also be a time of great loneliness, grief, stress, anxiety, and sadness for others. We call it the “holiday blues.” Some also know it as a seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Seeing smiling faces on social media doesn’t always help the situation, either. Regardless, coping with holiday blues (especially in 2020) is a real thing.
- In a survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of participants with mental illness said the holidays make their symptoms worse.
- One study from the Pacific Health Laboratories found that 44% of women and 34% of men in the U.S. felt down during the holidays.
- Depression peaks around the holidays and affects an estimated 17.6 million Americans.
These figures are pretty alarming, but experts are concerned that things will worsen this year because we’re still in the grips of a pandemic. National surveys cited by the CDC found that, overall, 40.9% of participants reported experiencing at least one negative mental health or behavioral condition, such as anxiety or depression.
Kids Experience the Holidays Blues, Too
If you have kids away in college, they may be feeling a little bluer than usual this time of year. Many college kids will be away from family during the holidays for the first time this year. That can be tough to deal with. On the flip side, many college kids have moved back home because of the pandemic. And let’s face it; we love our children, but having adult kids at home can also be stressful.
What do we do? How do we cope with depression, sadness, or loneliness this year? How do we cope with the holiday blues in 2020? There’s no easy answer, but some experts have weighed in on the issue.
But First: What Are Some Signs of the Holiday Blues?
If you notice that you or a loved one are exhibiting any of the below, it may be a good idea to get some help and find ways to help alleviate those holiday blues. What do the holiday blues look like? Here’s a partial listing of symptoms:
- Social isolation or being more withdrawn than usual
- Excessive sleeping
- Unenthusiastic about the future
How to Cope with the Holiday Blues in 2020
We’ve already recognized that many people – more than ever coupled with the pandemic – will be dealing with the holiday blues this year. There’s no one or easy solution, but there are some things we can do to cope.
Have a Family Zoom Meet-Up to Cope with the Family Blues
If you’re having a small gathering this year, or you’ll be spending the holidays alone, try getting everyone on board for a family Zoom meeting. Not possible with family? Arrange a virtual meeting with friends.
It’s not the same as sharing a table, but it’s close enough. Everyone can chat, laugh, and catch up. Maybe you can all play a game together during your call. Lots or family? Schedule calls for separate times, such as one group for appetizers, one for dinner, and one for dessert.
Another idea is to hold a dessert or best dish contest during your Zoom call. Everyone can vote on who has the best dessert or dish.
Get creative and find ways to recreate that shared meal experience that makes the holidays so special.
Don’t forget to include older family members in this and reach out to anyone who may be spending the day alone. It’s amazing how a simple phone call or video chat session can make you feel a little closer and stave off some of that sadness of not being able to gather in person.
Find New Ways to Celebrate Old Traditions to Cope with the Holiday Blues
We all have our own holiday traditions. If you still have young kids or grandchildren at home, you may be able to carry on with those traditions in new ways.
This year, you also have a great opportunity to start new traditions. Why not go for a family walk? Being out in nature and getting some physical activity before and after a meal can make a world of difference in your mood.
Share older family pictures and share memories. (This is fun to do on a virtual call as well.)
Listen to fun, upbeat music, and get up and dance. Yes – even by yourself. Dare I admit I’ve done this? And it feels good!
Yes, the holidays will be anything but normal this year, but there are ways to cope with those blues. Use the above tips to help cope with the changes, make the best of this situation, and know that these feelings will not last forever. For even more tips, google. There are so many useful suggestions online.
And check out a few books for suggestions and guidance as well. These books are not specifically geared towards the holiday blues but for dealing with depression in general. They are available in Kindle versions, too, so you can purchase and download instantly.
- Your Happiness Toolkit: 16 Strategies for Overcoming Depression, and Building a Joyful, Fulfilling Life
- The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs
- Feeling Great: The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety
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