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Editor's Note:  "Borderlines," BAMHS' periodic column, provides ideas and suggestions for healthy living, better family life and successful strategies for coping with life's challenges. Our newsletter is updated frequently! Check back often.
Ward off the Holiday Blues
Posted: December 7, 2011
Last Updated: December 7, 2011

December is supposed to be a time of joyful celebration and good cheer, a time to ward off the darkness of winter with lights and happiness. Yet, for many people the season can become overwhelming with all the expectations, stress, and spending associated with the holidays. These intense seasonal expectations that go unmet can cause bouts of sadness and depression, known as the Holiday Blues.


Holiday blues may occur on any holiday season or vacation time. Many factors contribute to the holiday blues including: increased stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations for the holiday season, inability to be with family, memories of past holiday celebrations, over commercialization, change in diet, and change in daily routines. The increased demands of shopping, family gatherings, parties, and houseguests can add stress and anxiety to the holidays for anyone.


Symptoms of the holiday blues can include: headaches, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, changes in weight, anxiety, and excessive feelings of guilt. To relieve these symptoms try the health tips below or find ways to relieve your stress by taking time for yourself, expressing your feelings to others, or asking for help from other family members with shopping or preparing for holiday events.


Some tips to ward off holiday blues:

  • Establish realistic goals and expectations for the holiday season. Sometimes distance, cost and availability make it impossible for families to get together. If your family canít be together mail them a card letting them know you are thinking about them. Consider reaching out and call a friend or family member to talk. Communicate your feelings constructively and honestly.
  • Limit your drinking. Alcohol consumption can affect mood and body chemistry, by limiting drinking you can lessen bouts of depression and keep your body chemistry at a normal level.  Most festive drinks are usually sold non-alcoholic, so just skip alcohol and the added calories.
  • Donít feel pushed to be festive. Accept your feelings and do not force yourself to specific feelings. You can prioritize holiday gatherings you want to attend or the festivities that have special meaning for you. If you have experienced a recent tragedy, a death or break-up, be honest about your feelings and tell people.
  • Know your spending limit and stick to it. Holiday cheer doesnít come with a price tag. Not everyone needs an expensive gift, simply spending time with family and friends shows you care; a small card or thoughtful letter is more than enough to let them know you are thinking of them. Many people overspend and end up paying for the holidays well into the next year. Keep to your budget or make simple craft gifts to hand out to extended family and friends with your children.
  • Exercise regularly. A daily walk or trip to the gym can relieve build up stress and aid in keeping off those holiday pounds. It also helps promote regular sleeping patterns one of the major symptoms of the Holiday Blues.
  • Give yourself a break. Plan for downtime during the rush of the holidays. You canít be everywhere at once or do everything. Also, remember everything doesnít have to be perfect. Our most cherished memories are all the sweeter for the imperfections, not the perfection, of the moment.
  • Go out and about with family. Instead of sitting around the family table or in the living room for the holidays, where tensions can easily escalate, try a quick walk in the park or a visit to a school playground for the kids. The exercise will lighten the mood and the activity spark positive interactions. 


Border Area Mental Health Services offers caring professional consolers ready to help you with any troubles you are experiencing this holiday season. Call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.

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© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.