We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But for millions of Americans, it’s one of the most difficult times of the year. As the holiday season approaches, days get shorter, and sunlight starts to dwindle. And with those changes comes the coined phrase “holiday blues,” a period between late fall and early spring when noticeable changes start occurring in mood and behavior.
Clinically known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this form of depression is directly correlated to changes in seasons. It’s most characteristic by social withdrawal, increased sleep, low energy levels and weight gain. Although the specific cause is unknown, researchers believe two big contributing factors include a drop in serotonin levels and a disruption in the body’s level of melatonin — both of which impact our mood and sleep patterns, becoming lessened without access to sunlight.
The good news is due to its predictability in nature, there are ways to get ahead and best prepare for your mental health during this time.
- Find ways to stay active and exercise indoors to boost your endorphins
- Be aware of your eating habits and stock healthy snacks to prevent excessive weight gain
- Explore complementary health approaches, like light therapy (phototherapy), to replace the natural sunlight during the winter months
- Spend time with friends, family and coworkers for emotional support
- Get an appropriate level of vitamin D from your food, to boost serotonin activity
- Speak with a healthcare provider if you feel like an antidepressant medication may be necessary
- Call the newly established 988 suicide and crisis lifeline, should your thoughts ever become suicidal
Remember to validate your feelings, regardless of what society makes us believe we should be feeling during the holiday season. Be honest with yourself and seek healthy ways to cope. And don’t ever forget, your team at Apex is here to support any mental health triage needs throughout the year. Reach out to our Licensed Clinical Social Worker Andrea Hickle should you find yourself needing guidance on where to begin.
About the Author
Organizations are in a constant state of change and the Kinetiq Health team supports them every step of the way. A unique formula of people, processes and technologies enables our team to keep an educated eye on the financial and clinical implications of data to move organizations toward improved financial health and employee well-being.