Dealing with the holiday blues

By Pat Caldwell, for WesCom News Service December 13, 2013 07:53 am

Holiday blues are a common affliction for many, but a few easy tips can alleviate short-term depression, according to writer and therapist Evan Katz.

Katz, the author of “Inside the Mind of an Angry Man,” said holiday activities often trigger a host of negative emotions linked to family and financial issues. 

“Everyone comes from family. Generally that triggers a lot of stuff,” Katz said.

Anger is often the outcome, he said.

“In men particularly it shows up in anger and frustration. We try to mask the hurt,” he said.

Yet holiday blues are not a distinctive challenge to one gender, he said. Depression during the holiday season is common and an equal opportunity condition. Expectations — from family, friends — play a role in the blues during holidays, he said.

“We have expectations things will be good and then they don’t turn out that way,” he said.

One solution, he said, is a simple one: Redefining expectations.

“You know, if I expect to get down, well what can I do about that? I recommend that you be in the now. Let things be as they are,” he said.

Disabling the holiday blues also revolves around planning ahead, he said.

“It’s about preparation,” Katz said.

Katz said one method to shattering holiday blues is the ability to count on a few key friends. 

“A support hotline, you know, two or three other people who you know you can call and you can just vent it out is important,” he said.

Katz also recommended that if you have a family, put them first. He also said physical activity — even a small amount — can help overwhelm holiday blues.

“It (the holiday season) is an important time to take care of the physical body. Stress is hard on the body. So take walks, particularly before you go someplace to visit. Get the chemicals in the body that give us power going,” he said.

Katz said the capacity to say “no” is important and part of a larger process to think positive.

“If you don’t want to go to a family function, you don’t have to go. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. So it is important to be able to say ‘I can’t do this,’” he said.

Holidays often become emotional whirlpools because familiar routines are suddenly smashed and enduring resentments and disagreements with family and friends appear to burn brighter.

Yet Katz said how people respond to any situation revolves around their perception. Perception, he said, plays a strategic role regarding depression and holiday blues.

“Distorted perceptions, we see something in the world that isn’t reality. For example, Cousin Sue resents me. Well, the truth is Cousin Sue doesn’t like anybody. Don’t give people room in your head rent free,” Katz said.

Katz said it is important also to accept the holiday season is a tough time emotionally for many people. He said it doesn’t take a lengthy, in-depth introspection of one’s life to find a good middle ground to march through the holiday season without the blues.

“You don’t have to meditate or Zen-out. Remember that this time of year really messes with us. So try to stay in the moment. Accept what you see. We can control our attitude. Bring yourself back to where you are,” he said.