Beating the blues at Christmas!
“Nobody stopped him in the street to say.. My dear Scrooge, how are you?
Bah! Humbug, every idiot who goes around with Merry Xmas on his
lips should be buried with a stake of holly through his heart”
(A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens 1843)
Are you feeling low this Christmas? Post-Christmas blues? Well, you are not alone. After the Christmas carols, festive parties, gifts, and yuletide wishes, many people experience sadness, depression and anxiety after Christmas. Maybe this is you? Not everyone enjoys Christmas or the holidays. Perhaps you or someone you know suffers from Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is an extreme form of the “winter blues,” SAD is a form of depression that the NHS estimates to affect approximately one in 15 people in the UK between September and April.
Loneliness during the Christmas holidays is often associated with older people, but new research has revealed that young people also struggle, not only with isolation but stress and anxiety during what is supposed to one of the happiest times of the year. People who suffer from anxiety and depression have a distorted view of the world and generally see things through a negative lens. For them, Christmas brings a certain pressure, the image of Christmas, the perfect family surrounded by love with happy cheery, smiles. Coupled with the burden of financial stress can lead some people to ruminate on what they have failed to achieve in life. One of the most relevant factors in Christmas depression is the individual’s belief in the myth that everyone else is having a good time- clearly a wish, but not necessarily a fact!
Indeed, the evidence tells us that the Christmas holiday appears to result in two broad patterns, a decrease in mood, mental state, instability and alcohol-related issues, but low uptake of professional emotional support, emergency services and suicide helplines. This is associated with Christmas indulgence and the boosted connection to family and friends over this period.
In contrast, the increase in a euphoric mood, brimming social calendars, unbridled indulgence and cosy evenings with beloved and missed family members, make Christmas a source of strength before the long winter months. However, for many, the New Year brings the same old same old issues and people can return to the pre-Christmas reality of depression, anxiety and stress. This is often referred to as the ‘rebound phenomena’
For example; having hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress. Overspending can produce financial pressure. Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.
How can you cope with post-Christmas blues?
- Be kind to yourself, be compassionate and develop personal positive self-regard.
- Exercise regularly. Blood pumping can help clear your mind.
- Eat healthily, overindulgence can mean temporary highs followed by disappointing flab. Try a low carb diet to rid yourself of that Christmas paunch.
- Lights on! Enjoy sunlight, outdoors if possible. Brighten up your home and workplace.
- Cut your financial cloth and start saving for next Christmas and prevent that January bill shock next year.
- Talk about your feelings. Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety, ulcers, sour disposition, and/or explosion. Find someone trustworthy to listen to your struggles?
Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5 pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page
Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm
Text 07786 209697
ChildLine – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill
The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90