Joseph R. Anticaglia, MD
Medical Advisory Board
For some, the holiday season can be a bummer whether you’re alone or around family and friends. While many believe “tis” the season to be jolly, others find it a depressing time of the year. Consider those facing the loss of a loved one, a job loss, confronting a serious illness or those struggling with a stressful divorce or financial problems.
If you’re lucky to have the love and support of family, friends and community, you truly are a “lucky so and so.” But many do not have such good fortune.
All too often, the holiday doldrums can spill over into weeks after the jolly season is over. Once the celebrations are over, decorations are put away, the leftovers eaten, many find themselves trapped in sadness and loneliness.
Perhaps there’s a frustration of unmet expectations? Do you feel disappointment or anger at not being appreciated? There may be a rekindling of family feuds, guilt of overindulgence or feeling stressed out. A haunting question rises to the surface —
“What am I going to do about it?”
Post-holiday blues, (sadness, low energy, difficulty sleeping, disappointment, loneliness, lack of enthusiasm, trouble concentrating, anxiety) are usually temporary. There are actions you can take to untangle yourself from feeling down. What follows are questions you are best qualified to answer. Take the time to: “Think things through, then follow through.” I’m confident the best suggestions and answers will come from you and no one else.
What can I do to stay socially connected?
We all need “eyeball to eyeball” interaction with adults to avoid isolation.
How can I become intellectually turned on?
We need to engage the mind in stimulating projects-activities. Perhaps learning a new language, or becoming better at modern technology might be worthwhile.
What will I do to stay physically fit?
Exercise can boost mood and lower stress.
What can I do to remain emotionally healthy?
Help someone worse off than you.
Of all the advice you receive or the stuff you read, the one with the most impact is to give of yourself — help others less fortunate than you. Become a regular volunteer at a soup kitchen or a V. A. hospital to understand how life can be difficult for others. Give a person a ride to the doctor’s office or take the time to go shopping for a shut-in. I’m sure you have better questions and suggestions as it pertains to your situation than those offered above. However, the key question surfaces:
What am I going to do about it?
Most of the answers to the challenges we face are found within ourselves. Find the time and place to listen to yourself. Most likely, you’re the one who will “come up” with the best answers.
Feeling sad and lonely are serious matters. If the blues last more than a few weeks, seek professional help.
- Holiday Blues That Linger Could Be Warning Sign of Depression; American Psychological Association, 2009
- Holliday Stress; American Psychiatric Association, November 2021
This article is intended solely as a learning experience. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options.