When the holiday juggernaut pulls by, it’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling stressed or even depressed on the days that are supposed to be the happiest of the year. According to health experts, one shouldn’t be ashamed of feelings like this.
“People often kick themselves thinking, ‘Only a loser can be sad on vacation,’ but in fact, many, many people feel sad on vacation – even before we struggled (COVID-19),” said Keith Humphreys, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University.
COVID-19 has made common vacation stressors even more difficult to deal with, and people shouldn’t be too strict with themselves, the professor said.
“This is a tough time and this has been a tough year,” said Humphreys.
While the pandemic has made it harder to use some of the coping mechanisms that Humphreys typically recommends, there are still effective ways to deal with the vacation blues, he said.
Connecting with the people you love can be trickier, but a phone call or a Zoom meeting can make a world of difference, the professor said.
A silver lining: “I usually tell people not to over-plan, but that’s no longer necessary because Covid has reduced the number of gatherings,” said Humphreys.
With this in mind, Kaiser Permanente advises people not to bother themselves with travel, vacation parties, and family celebrations. Instead, it’s important to get regular sleep and exercise and limit alcohol consumption, according to Kaiser’s website, Quick Tips: Reducing Holiday Stress.
Another good strategy, according to the Mayo Clinic, is to look for community or religious events. Online self-help groups or virtual events can offer support and guidance.
Volunteering or doing something to help others is also a great way to lift spirits and expand friendships, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Holidays can sometimes cause depression, according to Kaiser, and no one should be ashamed to ask for help.
“Talk to your doctor about counseling and medication for depression,” suggests the Kaiser website.
Perhaps one of the most important tips is not to beat yourself up for feeling down, Humphreys said.
“It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you just because you don’t feel too much in the holiday mood,” he said.