Managing The Holiday Blues

Vinitha Pastor's picture

Happy 2014 everyone!

This is my least favorite time of year. We have spent so much of the last couple of months preparing for the holidays, buying gifts, dressing up for parties, decorating our houses, seeing friends and family, and remembering to hide that elf every night. (Fred in our house.) In addition to all of that, I will also admit to spending even longer (the last eight months or so) being completely consumed with Braves baseball and Falcons football. Yes, I would even say obsessed.

Ugh. And then it’s over. I can say that the silence in my house is pretty deafening and it’s actually a little boring. It’s always amazing to me how we manage all that chaos without so much as batting an eyelash, and then when there’s not much to do, it’s always a struggle.

This is usually the time of year that many of us encounter seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depression that comes about during the winter. The days are shorter and we get much less exposure to sunlight, resulting in lower levels of serotonin in our brains. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps with mood. We usually don’t notice until after the holidays because we’re so busy.

So what do we do? We can get exposure to sunlight, exercise and stay social, all of which can help symptoms of SAD. It is helpful to talk to a therapist during this time too.

I also have another idea. Plan something to look forward to. Why? Because it helps to give us motivation to work through what we need to in the present in order to get there. I give this idea to clients often because it is easy to forget. While it’s always nice to plan a great vacation, or some other big event, there’s nothing wrong with thinking on a smaller scale. Taking a bubble bath, dinner with a friend, getting a massage, shopping at a store you don’t get to very much because it’s so far away. All of these things count!

So what am I looking forward? I’m going to three weddings this year, two of which I’ll have a significant role. We’ll go on vacation this summer. My family and I will take our annual trek to Orlando every February to go to Braves spring training, which is always a fun time. (Told you we were obsessed.) Between now and then, I’ll get my nails done and catch up on my DVR. I encourage everyone to find something to fit into the “something to look forward to” category. Even those smaller things are enough to make getting through every day manageable so that those big events are even more amazing.