10 Tips for Managing the Holiday Blues

November, December and January holidays come not only with a great deal of hype but also a tremendous amount of expectation to have the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday.

Hallmark movies make the holidays so picture perfect and some people find themselves trying to have those magical moments. It can be overwhelming and downright daunting.

The pressures of decorating, shopping for special meals, attending parties and strained family gatherings and expenses can feel more like a burden than a joy, especially for those living with mental illness. They can begin to feel anxious and even depressed.

Extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even sentimental memories that accompany the season can be a catalyst for the holiday blues, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Some can be at risk for feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss.

A lot of seasonal factors can trigger the holiday blues such as, less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, alcohol at parties, over-commercialization or the inability to be with friends or family. These are all factors that can seriously affect your mood, according to NAMI. These are commonly referred to as the “holiday blues.”

In a survey regarding the holiday blues, 64 percent said they are affected and 24 percent said they are affected a lot, according to NAMI.

However, there are certain things you can do to help avoid the holiday blues. Ken Duckworth, M.D., NAMI’s medical director, shares advice for managing your health—both mental and physical—during the holiday season.

They include:

  • Stick to normal routines as much as possible.
  • Get enough sleep or rest.
  • Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with supportive, caring people.
  • Eat and drink in moderation. Don’t drink alcohol if you are feeling down.
  • Get exercise, even if it’s only taking a short walk.
  • Make a to-do list. Keep things simple.
  • Set reasonable expectations and goals for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, attending parties or sending holiday cards.
  • Set a budget for holiday activities. Don’t overextend yourself financially in buying presents.
  • Listen to music.
  • Remember that holiday blues are short-term. Be patient. Take things week by week and day by day.