Jump to:Page Content
The holidays are supposed to be the most festive time of the year, but for some, the season’s added stressors, extra financial burdens and shorter, darker days can conspire to produce more blues than merriment. Caregivers, who are already stretched thin, are doubly vulnerable to the season’s dark side. Some may find that their shifting holiday routine has caused their loved one to become difficult to manage, while others may see the season as a terrible marker of their family member’s deteriorating condition.
“Absolutely, we see depression increase during the holidays,” says Rose Madden-Baer, Vice President, Behavioral Health and Special Projects, at VNSNY. “It is a busy time of year in terms of having to cope with all that needs to be done. Often, economics becomes an issue, having to spend money. And if you are experiencing a recent loss, you might find yourself comparing the holidays to past times.”
What can you do to shake the holiday blues?
If you sense you might be getting depressed, research shows it helps to talk about it. According to a depression fact sheet from NYU’s Langone Medical Center, people suffering from depression during the holidays actually receive more support from family and friends. Take advantage of social gatherings to reach out to others, stay connected and get the help you need.
It just might be impossible to accomplish all the things you set out to do. If you don’t get your handmade Christmas cards out this year or can’t seem to finish knitting your nephew a new sweater, cut yourself some slack. The holidays can really cause us to set unrealistic expectations, and, well, we can’t all be Martha Stewart.
Take your mind off your own troubles by helping others in need. If you can manage to squeeze it in, spend a few hours volunteering at a soup kitchen, or take up a collection of canned goods, second-hand clothes or toys, or round up some friends and go caroling at a nursing home or children’s hospital. The old adage says, “give until it hurts,” and sometimes altruism can be the best medicine.
There is nothing as enticing as a colorful row of holiday cookies and treats, but all the sugar and carbohydrates they contain can zap your energy and then your spirits—especially if combined with too much alcohol. Try to stick to healthy eating patterns during the holidays, lean meats, leafy vegetables, whole grains and good fats, and keep holiday indulgences to a minimum.
Holiday shopping can be a pleasant distraction, but if you’re spending more than you should, you could end up with a case of retail hangover. Avoid the anxiety and remorse that comes with high credit card bills by being sensible about gift giving. Your friends and family won’t love you any less.
Tap into the things you used to like to do. “Whatever a person’s areas of interest are, rekindling connections to past experiences can be beneficial,” says Madden-Baer, which could be anything from playing cards, to watching a ballgame, social dance or listening to music.
Enlist family members to help out with your caregiving duties and get some time to yourself to spend however you wish.
If what you are experiencing is more than a transient case of the blues and is associated with a persistent feeling of sadness over a long period of time as well as loss of interest in things that previously brought you joy, notify your primary care physician as soon as possible.
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.