2 posts tagged “holiday blues”

Treat yourself: 6 self-care tips for the hectic holiday season

Posted December 11th, 2017 by

The holidays are stressful enough for people living without illness. When you have a health condition, or care for someone who does, the hustle and bustle of this time of year – plus the sky-high expectations for a magical time – can be physically and emotionally draining. We’ve rounded up self-care tips to help you tend to your mental and physical health.

1. Take stock of your feelings. If you’ve experienced a lot of losses or changes in your life since last holiday season, it’s natural to feel grief or some extra stress this year. Acknowledge and express your feelings. “You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season,” Mayo Clinic points out.

2. Connect with others if you’re lonely. If you’re feeling isolated, talk with a friend or family member, or find a local event to attend (such as a holiday concert or a volunteer/charity event, if you’re able). Also, touch base with your community on PatientsLikeMe and look for live-streamed concerts and events online (check out these 12 live-streaming apps) if your condition is keeping you at home these days.

3. Dial back expectations and plans. Be realistic about what’s possible for you this year. Sure, do the things that make you happy, but try to edit your usual holiday decorating, gift-giving, social and travel plans if you already have a sense that you can’t keep up (physically or financially) because of your condition. Talk with your most understanding loved one(s) and ask them to share with others that your plans and abilities might be a little bit different this year. Maybe a low-key gift swap or a holiday movie/takeout night is more your speed than your usual traditions involving travel or all-day cooking and entertaining.

4. Stick to a normal, healthy routine. As much as you can, try to keep your usual schedule, aiming for 8+ hours of sleep, regular physical activity (if that’s part of your routine) and a healthy eating plan (hint: avoid excessive alcohol and eat healthy snacks before parties and events so you aren’t as tempted to overindulge).

5. Take things one step at a time. Make a to-do list and stay in the moment to finish the task at hand. “If you’re making dessert for a work potluck, focus solely on that task,” Mental Health America advises. “Don’t think about what you need to do after, or what you have to do tomorrow. Just focus on the good smells coming from your cooking, and maybe even sneak a bite if it feels right. Trying to consider everything at once will only make you feel overwhelmed and stressed.” If you know that you feel better at certain times of the day, try to complete your tasks then.

6. Build in time for R&R. “Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says. “Spend time with supportive, caring people … Listen to music or find other ways to relax.” Don’t feel guilty about taking naps and squeezing in activities that make you feel happy, such as these sensory ideas member Laura (thisdiva99) shared earlier this year.

Holiday blues stats and facts

If you’re experiencing the holiday blues, you’re not alone. A NAMI survey found that 64% of people say they experience the holiday blues and 24% say the holidays affect them a lot.

NAMI defines the holiday blues as “temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays that can be associated with extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even memories that accompany the season.” Additional factors may include less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, and even over-commercialization.

If signs of the holiday blues – such as feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss – extend beyond the holiday season or make your existing clinical anxiety or depression worse, talk with your doctor or a mental health professional. “However, short-term problems must still be taken seriously,” NAMI says.

How do you deal with the holiday blues or seasonal stress? Join PatientsLikeMe today to discuss ideas with the community!

 

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Coping with Holiday Stress and Blues

Posted December 16th, 2011 by

All Types of Patients Are Susceptible to Holiday Stress

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Or is it?

The holidays can be a time of merriment and joy marked by festive parties and family reunions.  But they can also be quite challenging.

Despite the great cheer advertised everywhere you look, some people find themselves struggling with stress, anxiety, loneliness and/or depression.  This phenomenon is sometimes called the “holiday blues.”  Add to that things like fatigue, insomnia and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – which affect many PatientsLikeMe members on a regular basis – and you have the recipe for a perfect holiday storm.

Here’s a look at how our patients are attempting to cope with the stresses of the season:

  • “Seeing all the lights, the preparations, the shopping for the holidays makes me dread what is coming.  I try to go to low-key places where there isn’t as much traffic and aren’t as many people.  I try to play down the importance of everything so I don’t become so obsessed with choices and opinions.  I take breaks.  LOTS of breaks.  I try to make sure I take them before I even become overwhelmed in the first place. And I try to find free things to replace some of the costs – either as presents or activities.” – Patient with major depressive disorder
  • “Having family meet on a major holiday is enough to upset the emotional applecart so to speak.  Try just to do an average job of cooking, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Take a break when you can…get involved in objective projects: carefully following a recipe or cooking something with your mind fully on it can help calm panic attacks.  If you are doing your best, that will be the best you can do.” – Patient with Parkinson’s
  • “It puts a lot of stress and pressure on me. I have three children who get a lil’ demanding, and then a husband who expects me to travel with three demanding children and then stay at relatives’ tiny houses, etc. The noise, the gossip, the fake hugs from relatives who really do not like me, it all honestly just ‘gets to me.’ But this year, I’m taking my power back by saying NO to the parts of the holidays in which I do not want to participate.” – Patient with bipolar I disorder
  • “Sometimes I get depressed because I’m usually one of those people who have to get assistance to give their children gifts for the holidays. I also get depressed because I don’t look the way I want to (I am overweight) and do not want people to see me like that. So the gatherings can be nerve wracking for me. [But] I am learning to let go of the ‘shoulds.’ Not easy, but it can be done.  If I am really not feeling up to something (I get exhausted really easily), then I allow myself to not go, or not run the thing like I used to, or only bring one thing instead of 3 or 4. Pacing myself has been a good thing to learn.” – Patient with fibromyalgia

Are you feeling signs of the “holiday blues”?  Are the demands on your time and your pocketbook starting to overwhelm you?  Before you pack up the car or welcome any house guests, check out these great tips from the Mayo Clinic for getting through the holidays with as much joy as possible.