Dealing with the Holiday Blues
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Kennedy can help you deal with holiday blues.
It may be the "season to be jolly," but for many people, the holidays don't leave them feeling all that cheery. In fact, for many people, this time of year is a time of sadness, intense self-reflection, and anxiety.

According to Mental Health America, many factors can cause the "holiday blues:" stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one's family and friends. The "holiday blues" can result in everything from headaches to excessive eating and drinking, to trouble sleeping – or just generally feeling "down."

People who have lost a loved one, even years before, often experience a sense of loss most acutely around the holidays. Kennedy University Hospital offers a confidential bereavement support group at its three hospitals in Cherry Hill, Stratford and Washington Township, NJ, to offer support to those grieving a loss. These support groups meet at the following times and locations:

  • Kennedy – Cherry Hill, 2201 Chapel Avenue West: 3rd Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m., fifth floor boardroom.
  • Kennedy – Stratford, 18 E. Laurel Road: 2nd Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m., third floor large conference room.
  • Kennedy – Washington Township, 435 Hurffville-Cross Keys Road: 4th Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m., first floor classroom.

All are welcome and pre-registration is not necessary.

If you are dealing with the "holiday blues," there are ways you can help yourself get through the season easier.

  • Honor your feelings: It's OK to accept how you feel. In fact, forcing feelings that aren't there can only make matters worse.
  • Seek sun and endorphins: If you find yourself feeling blue, try to get at least 15 minutes of sunlight each day. Exercise can also lighten a heavy mood.
  • Help someone else: Volunteer at a soup kitchen, wrap gifts for needy kids, or spend time with an elderly relative or friend. These are all great mood-lifters.
  • Create your own traditions: There really are no "rules" for how to spend your holidays. So if old traditions bring up unhappy memories, start new ones. If you don't have family, share the holidays with good friends. If cooking a Christmas dinner seems like a herculean task, opt for brunch instead. Do what works best for you!
  • Stay busy: If you know the holidays are difficult for you, plan ahead so you can minimize difficult feelings. Try to fill your calendar with fun events. Too much time spent alone can make anyone feel down.
  • Count your blessings: Taking stock of all the good things in your life can go a long way toward banishing the 'bah-humbug' blues.

While the so-called "holiday blues" can bring about thoughts or feelings may be associated with those of clinical depression, they tend to be short-lived and brought on by the expectations we have set up surrounding the holiday season, according to Russell Micoli, Kennedy's Corporate Director of Behavioral Health Services. Feeling depressed or 'down' is not an immediate cause for concern; however, if you find that these feelings are negatively impacting your day-to-day activities, speaking with a trained professional can be very helpful and reassuring. Support groups can also be very beneficial. Kennedy's Behavioral Health Services provides a full range of mental health and substance programs. For more information, please call 1-800-528-3425.