Due to Covid-19, many of us may be more susceptible to the winter blues this year than ever. It would not be unusual if you feel a bit down now that the holidays have come and gone. Many people experience bouts of stress and winter depression that linger past the holiday season. The condition is typically due to the letdown after all the excitement is over.
This year, however, the Holiday Blues may feel very different. With so many traditional celebrations curtailed or simply canceled due to the pandemic, many of us may not have even gotten the chance to enjoy the normal emotional boost that comes with the holiday season.
Keep in mind that if you feel more depressed than normal for an extended period of time during or, especially, after the holidays, you are not alone. At the very least, reach out to loved ones and friends for support, and learn ways to cope with the blues you are experiencing.
Understanding the winter blues is important. Here are some signs:
- Lack of energy
- Lack of interest in pleasurable activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increase in sleep and sleepiness
- Increased appetite or lack of interest in eating
- Social avoidance
- Substance abuse
There are many mental and physiological factors that may be causing these symptoms, including:
- Unrealized expectations: Many times we place pressure on ourselves to make New Year’s resolutions that can be difficult to keep. If you do not meet these expectations, you may feel disappointed.
- Negative associations with the holidays: Many people do not look forward to the holidays because the season reminds them of something painful.
- Anticlimactic feelings: Once all the festivities have ended, it is easy to feel a bit melancholy.
- Biological reactions to seasonal changes: Research indicates that lack of sunlight may affect us physically. People susceptible to this situation may develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that commonly begins in early fall and subsides in early spring.
Try these suggestions to help manage your feelings:
- Find support in others. Try confiding in trusted family members and friends about how you have been feeling.
- Manage your stress. Learn effective ways to reduce your stress and anxiety, which may minimize your feelings of depression.
- Exercise regularly. Regular fitness activities can improve your mood and boost your self-esteem. Because a lack of sunlight may be contributing to your blues, exercise outdoors for a double benefit.
- Eat right. Discipline yourself not to overeat. Avoid junk foods and environments that may encourage bingeing. Stick to a nutritionally balanced diet. Avoid alcohol, which is a depressant.
- Get the proper amount of sleep. Experts recommend at least seven to eight hours a night. Resist the urge to oversleep, and try to maintain a regular sleeping schedule.
- Make more time for recreational, fun activities. Try to spend more time outdoors, especially on sunny days.
- Be more social. Stay in touch with friends and family.
It is important to pay attention to your feelings and educate yourself to their sources. Seek out support groups to help you get through this difficult time. Remember, we are all in this together.