When you think of the winter holiday season, what comes to mind? Time with friends and family, shopping the sales, family vacations, breaks from school? While all of these can bring smiles to people’s faces, the holiday season can also be a time of great stress and worry. What are your stressors during the holidays? Perhaps it’s looking after your little ones while they’re off school for a few weeks. Or maybe you have an overwhelming number of gifts to buy friends and family; a commitment of both time and money. Maybe you’re just one that doesn’t care for the snow, cold weather, and cloudy days. Whatever the stressors are that you find difficult to deal with year after year, the first step that can be helpful in dealing with these stressors is identifying them. While some may begin to feel down because of the additional responsibilities and busy go-go-go related to the holidays, others find that winter comes with less to do and often find themselves cooped up in their home.
4 Tips for Dealing with the Winter Blues
Communicate expectations- With your kids, your spouse, nanny, other family members, etc. Routines can change with the seasons, especially when dealing with breaks from school. Let your kids know what to expect during winter break. If you’ll be at work, who will be looking after them? Can they have friends over? How about later bedtimes? When we know what others expect from us, it’s much easier to give them what they want.
Share responsibilities- Whether it’s purchasing gifts for the family, preparing for (or cleaning up from) a big dinner, or additional child care needs, enlist friends and family to share holiday responsibilities. People often report feeling guilty asking their loved ones for help of this sort. The fact is, they’re typically happy to help, just as you would be happy to help any of them.
Utilize your support systems- Similar to the previous tip, however this is in regards to your emotional health. Often when feeling down, we isolate ourselves. This, in fact, can serve to prolong and exacerbate our blues. Some find it helpful to join a support group, speak to a therapist and spend time on self-care.
Recognize if it’s something more- A hallmark of seasonal blues is that…well… they’re seasonal! A true case of the winter blues is absent during the remainder of the year. If you find that you often feel down and/or have experienced changes in mood, sleep, and behavior that are getting in the way of daily life and have lasted for two weeks or more, it’s highly recommended to consult a mental health professional. Taking this step is important to do for not only for yourself, but also for your loved ones. While this does involve a commitment of your time and money, the benefits of tending to one’s mental health far outweigh the costs.