Tips for Coping with the Vacation Blues – Press and Guide

For many, it’s the best time of the year. But for others — particularly those struggling with mental illness, struggling with the death of a loved one, losing a job, etc. — it’s anything but.

As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, you may be dealing with seasonal depression — a type of depression characterized by seasonal changes. Or you may have financial worries about buying gifts and decorations and throwing parties — especially with inflation hitting a 40-year high in 2022. And when you’re grieving the death of a family member or friend, their absence can feel like an even greater emptiness.

But you are not alone. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38% of respondents said their stress increases during the holiday season. And the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that 64% of people with a mental illness report their condition worsening at this time of year.

So what can you do when the holidays aren’t so merry?

Create new traditions

If you’ve lost a loved one, create new holiday traditions.

My uncle’s birthday was December 25th – and every year we went to his house to celebrate his birthday and Christmas. My grandma was there with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. But when my uncle died in 1995 and my grandma died in 1996, that was the first time my once-favorite vacation felt spoiled. By the time I was 11, I had no living grandparents, and every Christmas I couldn’t help but be jealous of my peers who had grandparents to celebrate with.

Since then we have created new holiday traditions. My cousin took over as hostess for Christmas, and last year my fiancé’s grandma gave me a card and called me her granddaughter—the first time I’d been called someone’s granddaughter in 23 years.

For those grieving the loss of a loved one, I’m not saying you’ll ever miss them, but as the years go by it gets easier. You may be sad, but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone this season. Let your family and friends be there for you and don’t feel guilty as you continue the traditions you are used to or create new ones. But also remember that you don’t have to pretend you’re happy just because it’s the holidays. Take time for yourself, let yourself be sad, and know that the holidays are hard for a lot of people.

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