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If it’s the most wonderful time of the year, then why are so many people in a bad mood? It’s difficult to see why anyone could be in a bad mood with all the festive lights, jolly carols, and the outpouring of generosity that goes hand-in-hand with the holiday season. But for many, the holidays are a link to severe bouts of negative feelings that lead to varying states of depression.
Causes of Winter Holiday Depression
When everybody is in non-stop, holiday celebration mode it can be difficult to imagine that somewhere, someone is not filled with the spirit. Although those who suffer from holiday depression might be filled with spirits of the alcoholic variety. Things might start out cheerful and celebratory, but as the effects of alcohol set in, so do the repercussions of overindulging.
Too much of a good thing does exist, especially when it comes to gluttony and other frivolous adventures. Here are some things people do in excess that causes them to feel depressed during the holiday season, along with some tips for countering them.
- Drinking Alcohol – Drinking leads to decisions that you would not make when you were sober at all times of the year. Take for instance the holiday office party. Remember the tales from last year? Hopefully you were not the subject of any of them! Drinking too much is a sure way to turn a holiday celebration into something that will create a black mark on your record for years to come. Try non-alcoholic varieties of your favorite drinks this year. You’ll still look cool without the after-effects.
- Eating Unhealthy Foods – The holidays are a time where you eat things that weigh you down – literally. The holidays should be a gas, and not because you have it! Rich foods that are high in calories seem to grace every holiday party. Eat a big bowl of salad or some apple slices dipped in peanut butter an hour or so before the party, accompanied by a big glass of water. You’ll be able to enjoy a sampling of what’s served, but will feel full faster which keeps you from overindulging.
- Spending Money – After being an extreme gift giver, and giving the bests gifts there are to give, your money is a little on the low. You might even be in the red for months to come in the New Year. All these gifts contribute to the stress you feel after the holiday season. Avoid spending too much by shopping locally. Use services like Living Social to buy things at discounted prices. However the best gift you can give someone is the gift of your time. Clean an elderly family member’s gutters, or babysit for a young couple so they can have a night out.
- Late Nights – All the celebrations and family gatherings lead to late nights and lack of sleep. Lack of sleep is a major contributor to an increase of stress! Sleep is essential in keeping yourself together during this busy time of the year, so if things like baking cookies and wrapping gifts are keeping you up at night, it’s time to call it quits. Get cookies from the local bakery and have a service do the wrapping for you. Better yet, employ some local teenagers. They often work harder for less money.
- Family Get-Togethers – If you go to great lengths of distance to see different family members and feel that you are stretching yourself across the map going back and forth for all of the holidays, give yourself a break. Take turns on who you see for the holidays. If you see one part of your family on Thanksgiving, why not try and see them again on Easter instead of Christmas? Computer programs and services like Skype and Google+ make it easy to share face-to-face conversation with family in real-time even when you’re miles apart.
Fighting Post-Holiday Depression
When you arrive back to your home from visiting family members and aren’t expecting anymore holiday visitors, you might begin to feel a sort of emptiness. After all that time and effort to decorate for the holidays, everything comes down so quickly and within a short amount of time everything seems back to normal. American cartoonist Kin Hubbard hit the nail on the head when he said, “Next to a circus, there ain’t nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas Spirit.”
Part of what makes us happy during the holidays is giving. Then think about how many people missed out on that, whether it’s because of the economy or something else. Just because the holidays are over don’t mean you have to stop giving. Volunteer at places such a soup kitchen, your town community center, or the local library. You can even give your time by donating at animal shelters, because there are many animals that need to feel happiness as well as humans.