Have you been feeling down lately? Maybe you've misplaced the warm, fuzzy feeling of hope. Maybe you feel too drained to crawl out of bed, let alone go to class. Maybe all of the clouds in the November sky have congregated in the space behind your eyes. Maybe you're experiencing the holiday blues. This is for you.
When the trees change to happy colors, string lights glitter over every surface and the winter chill invites boots, sweaters, and hot coffee, it may seem strange to feel so sad. And loneliness is unsettling during a time of year dedicated to love and family. It can be hard to deal with but don't be afraid. It's normal.
The happiest time of the year, for many, triggers feelings of anxiety and depression known as the "holiday blues." According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a number of seasonal factors can culminate in the holiday blues, including "less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, alcohol at parties, over-commercialization, or the inability to be with friends or family." Understandably, college can worsen symptoms of the holiday blues. If, for example, you're already experiencing homesickness, the holidays' emphasis on spending time with family may magnify it. Many people can manage these feelings on their own; however, if you have a history of anxiety or depression, you might consider seeking professional support.
To deal with the holiday blues, the Mayo Clinic recommends first acknowledging your feelings. "It's okay to take time to cry or express your feelings," their website reassures. "You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season."
Next, reach out to others. Call your mom. Get coffee with a friend. Volunteer--making others feel good can make you feel good. And, here at Florida State University, students can meet with counselors free of charge. Take advantage of this if you need to; the counselors are here to help you through anything going on in your life.
Furthermore, when dealing with the holiday blues, be sure to make healthy choices for your body and brain. Drink responsibly, enjoy holiday treats in moderation, and make a point to exercise. "Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all," Mayo suggests. "Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt."
Finally, think realistically about the holidays. You might not have the perfect turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. You might not have a magical, Hallmark-worthy Christmas. Don't put that pressure on yourself; it will only worsen feelings of stress. Use your precious time off to rest, refresh, and prepare for next year.
When you feel the holiday blues creeping in, don't panic. With help from the people around you, you can handle the feelings of anxiety and depression that often surface during this time of year. Plan ahead, take care of yourself and stay focused. It might be difficult, and that's okay. Hold out through the holidays, and embrace the glorious fresh start that comes with a new year.