Healthy Ways to Avoid Holiday Blues
During the holidays, it may feel like everyone is celebrating except you. If you have depression, the pressures that come with the holidays can make you feel even worse. You may also have feelings of loneliness during this time.
It can be tempting to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking, to help you cope. With lots of holiday parties and family events this time of year, there's often plenty of alcohol available. Or you may be tempted to smoke, take drugs or eat too much to escape all the emotions you may be feeling.
The truth is, these behaviors won't help—they can even make you feel worse. These tips can help guide you through tough times without hurting yourself or those around you.
- Keep your expectations realistic. You may feel pressure to take on more tasks than you have energy for or give more gifts than you can afford. Overextending yourself and not being able to follow through can make you feel worse. Only commit to those things you know you'll be able to do. If other people ask more of you than you can handle, you can always say no.
- Make time for exercise. When you're active, your brain releases chemicals that improve your mood and lower stress. Not only does exercise keep your body healthy, it protects your mind, too. Experts suggest 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, each day.
- Talk to someone. You don't have to go it alone. Talk about your problems with someone close to you, such as a friend or family member. It can help you feel better. They may also help you think of your problems in a new way and suggest solutions you haven't considered before. Be honest with your doctor, too. Tell him or her what you're going through. There are treatments for depression that can help.
- Take care of yourself. When you treat your body right, you're able to deal with problems more easily. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Stay away from sugar and caffeine. They can cause a dip in your energy level and leave you feeling worse. And fill your diet with health-boosting foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
If you've been feeling these symptoms for a while, it's time to seek professional help:
- Constant sadness or anxiety
- Physical exhaustion without obvious cause
- Inability to sleep
- Irritability and feelings of hopelessness
- Lack of interest in regular activities
Finally, if you're a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois member, call the toll-free customer service number on the back of your card to learn about what benefits and behavioral health services are available to you.
Sources: Krames Staywell, Mayo Clinic