19 December, 2018

Fighting The Christmas Blues

A mental health worker with Southern Health says there are many factors which could lead to someone feeling the Christmas Blues.

Jenn Kulpa says, though not a medical diagnosis, the Christmas Blues refers to increased depression and anxiety this time of year. Kulpa says in December we often sing about this being the most wonderful time of the year, yet she says that is not everyone’s reality.

“Things like the loss of a loved one, financial strain, people are spending money they don’t have or restricting themselves and then feeling like they are missing out,” says Kulpa.

She says other factors include restricted mobility or the absence of friends and family. It could also be the anxiety of feeling obligated to attend a gathering we would just as soon miss. This time of year there are also fewer sunlight hours.

Kulpa says there are several signs to watch for. It could be a lack of energy or even spending longer hours in bed. Other symptoms could be a change in appetite or increased feelings of anxiety.

If you notice yourself feeling down this Christmas, Kulpa offers a few suggestions. She says, first of all, be kind to yourself.

“It’s okay to feel sad,” she says. “If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, that’s going to make the holidays difficult and so give yourself the time to kind of process through that.”

And she says don’t hide it, talk to someone.

“You are not going to ruin their Christmas either if you let them know how you are feeling,” she says. “Let’s just be real about your feeling.”

Kulpa adds it is okay to say ‘no.’ You don’t need to attend every Christmas event. She suggests trying to simplify things by purchasing your Christmas goodies at a local bake sale, rather than making it yourself.

She notes it is also important to take care of your body. This includes eating well, limiting alcohol intake, getting exercise and making sure you get rest.

If you notice a friend or loved one experiencing the Christmas Blues, Kulpa says be a friend and allow them to feel what they are feeling.

“Taking that extra time to do a simple gesture, that can have a big impact,” notes Kulpa. “Maybe it’s bringing somebody a Timmies or offering to babysit for a stressed-out parent.”

Meanwhile, Kulpa says Southern Health has a 24-hour crisis line at 1-888-617-7715.

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