How Your Relationship Can Help You Overcome The Holiday Blues
Holiday Blues Syndrome. Dreading the holidays? Thinking of excuses to avoid participating in holiday gatherings. Hope and help is awaiting you.
Mental health disorders differ from holiday blues
Although the holiday blues are a real phenomenon, the consequences associated with the holiday blues may surprise you. Evidence indicates that suicide rates in the United States do not actually spike around the holiday season, but, in fact, suicide rates are highest between April and August. The months of November, December, and January actually have the lowest daily suicide rates. While there are no systematic reviews about an increase of mental health problems around the holidays, survey findings suggest that people feel more stress, anxiety and depression in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
In other words, mental health disorders do not increase around holiday time, but the signs and symptoms associated with mental health temporarily worsen around this time of year. This is particularly important because these temporary signs and symptoms can develop into mental health disorders later in the year if affected individuals do not take care of themselves around the holiday season. There is a difference between the holiday blues, which typically pass when the holiday season ends, and a more severe depression that lasts longer and interferes with the activities of daily living.
The holiday season can be a tremendously stressful time for many who are struggling with a mental illness such as depression and anxiety. According to a survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 24% of people with a diagnosed mental illness find that the holidays make their condition “a lot” worse and 40% say “somewhat” worse. The pressure of trying to do everything, planning the perfect holiday, traveling to visit family, saying yes to every event, meeting those year-end deadlines and the financial burdens of holiday shopping can be enough to send anyone into a tailspin. The holiday hustle and bustle not only heavily impacts individuals prone to anxiety, depression and stress (and a lack of sleep) but it can also take a toll on those who have never experienced a mental illness. “For many, the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year,” says the medical director of NAMI. “What the survey shows is a tremendous need for people to reach out and watch out for each other in keeping with the spirit of the season.” In another survey, approximately 755 of the overall respondents reported that the holidays contribute to feelings of sadness and dissatisfaction. 68% of survey participants felt financially strained, 66% experienced loneliness, 63% felt an overwhelmingly sense of pressure, 55% found themselves remembering happier times in the past contrasting with the present, while 50% were unable to be with loved ones.
Looking at the statistics
- The highest rate for child psychiatric hospitalizations occur during the winter.
- Dissatisfaction and loneliness are the most common symptoms of the holiday blues.
- The holiday blues are different from mental illness, but short-term mental health problems must be taken seriously as they can lead to clinical anxiety and depression.
- The holiday blues often affect individuals already living with mental illness.
- Eating poorly and drinking excessively can exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety and depression around the holidays.
- Approximately 40% of adults are riddled with social anxiety around the holidays.
- Mental health disorders do not actually increase around holiday seasons.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (differing from the holiday blues) peaks in the winter and resolves in the late springtime. It is characterized by a depression that worsens with certain seasons.
- According to the U.S. Center for Health Statistics, the months of November, December, and January actually have the lowest daily suicide while rate the highest rate falls between April and August.
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness
I believe this is a direct result of what I would call Mom blues!! When I think of the holidays, it comes with hustle and bustle and all those extra hours at work and extra planning for home gatherings. The mind is screaming, I NEED HELP! It is scrambling for more time and more resources for things to be just as desired.
The key to this dilemma is to have a healthy relationship with yourself in my opinion. I know that most times, our first reaction is to reach for help. I challenge you to begin to dig deep within. Becoming more self-aware and mindful of who you are as a person is key to a successful relationship with self. Loving oneself is paramount to enjoying your days whether it be a holiday or just an ordinary day with no special meaning. Try not to take yourself so seriously at times. Learn how to laugh at yourself and your flaws. I dare you to begin a daily habit of laughing at yourself at least twice daily.
Discovering yourself is the best relationship you can have during the holidays. Imagine loving yourself unconditionally. Look at yourself in the mirror without body shaming yourself. Admire the beautiful woman you are because the Lord formed you in your mother’s womb. He wanted you here during a dispensation of time. Imagine loving you just the way you are – nothing added and nothing taken away. Embrace being whole within. The most important relationship you will have in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Loving yourself unconditionally allows you the freedom to have your flaws along with your strengths; accepting both makes you into the beautiful, amazing, loving woman you are today. Once you have this as your foundation, you can get through the dreaded holidays as well as any other days with a well-balanced, calm, stable mind.
Once you have achieved the foundation of a loving self, you can now make a connection with a close friend, family member, or loved one to share the holiday time. The bible says that it is more blessed to give than to receive. You will be very rejuvenated after finding a close someone to share yourself with during the holidays. Such sharing can be quality time. Possibly a gift. A personal note of encouragement. A gift of monetary value. Something that is honorable to the receiver. When you do give in this way, your motive is not to expect anything in return. You are showing someone that they are valuable. You will in return be humbled as they are filled with joy by your giving.
Holiday contingency plans during Covid-19
This will be the very first year that I have experienced a pandemic of this kind since I have been alive. This truly has changed life as “normal” – like we had known it before COVID-19. According to Web-Md Health News in an article written by Saundra Young on COVID Safety During the Upcoming Holidays, there are no easy answers in 2020.
Holiday travel used to be as easy as jumping on a plane or packing up the family car. The only thing to worry about were the long lines at the airport or backups on the interstate. But with U.S. cases of COVID-19 closing in on 7 million people and 200,000 deaths, it’s no longer that simple.
Travel Carries Risks
Vin Gupta, MD, a pulmonary critical care doctor and assistant professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington Medical Center, believes that traveling for the holidays is risky. He claims that respiratory viruses like COVID-19 like dry, cold climates and transmit more easily in them.
“It would be taking a calculated risk,” he says. “So if I, for instance, couldn’t ensure that I wasn’t harming my family, and if I knew I couldn’t take the strictest precautions, then I wouldn’t go. That is unfortunately the consequence that we all have to live with in the setting of a global pandemic.”
Gupta offers these tips if you plan to attend a gathering:
- Make sure you have no COVID-like symptoms for at least two weeks prior to traveling.
- Get tested before you travel and, if possible, quarantine at a hotel for at least 48 hours before seeing your loved ones.
- Drive if possible.
- If you fly, travel during off-peak hours, wear a well-fitting mask (N95 if possible), social distance, and make sure the airline is keeping the middle seat open.
- Take wet wipes to wipe down the back of your seat and tray table, and make sure you have hand sanitizer with you.
- At the family gathering, cut down on close contact and talking without a mask – particularly around elderly loved ones.
Other tips include frequent hand-washing, washing your own dishes so that you lessen the chance of cross-contamination or exposure to saliva, doing your own laundry while there, and wiping down common areas like bathrooms.
“The way you would operate in public, operate in private when you’re visiting family members that you don’t normally see, day in and day out, who might be vulnerable.”
Fauci says that the fewer people touching food, the better. And if you choose to order out, “order separate servings,” he says “This could be safer than cooking yourself. Avoid platters and serving dishes that are commonly shared. Try to keep servings as separate as possible.”
“You want to minimize cross-contamination, anybody eating directly from shared pots, sharing glasses of liquid, because we know COVID-19 can be spread through saliva secretions,” Gupta adds.
Please be safe and love your family even if at a distance!!!!
Thank you kindly for reading and listening.