We are in the full swing of what people call “the most wonderful time of the year”. However, for a lot of people, it can be the hardest part of the year. What makes this time of the year so wonderful to some and so difficult for others? There can be many possible reasons, but I will explore a couple and share suggestions on how to combat them.
One reason that this time of year could be difficult for people is the change in weather. Due to the decrease in temperatures, it also means a decrease in the time people spend outside. Less time outside generally means less sunlight, less exercise, and more opportunities to get sick. Winter is the flu and covid season and that can be a major drain on a person’s mood. Aside from the larger amounts of people getting sick, the colder temperatures are often preventing people from getting outside. It’s hard to convince yourself to go outside if it’s very cold. Additionally, with decreasing amounts of sunlight and daytime, even if somebody is wanting to get out they’re just not as much time in the day to do it. Oftentimes when people are getting off work now, it’s already dark out. So what can we do to combat the difficulties that come with the coldness and darkness of winter?
One potential strategy is getting lights that simulate sunlight. Our bodies get a lot of things they need from the sun. Being indoors and without as much sunlight can cause issues. If you have never heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this is basically what it is: changing in seasons can cause big changes in mood and depression and it tends to have the greatest effect in winter. In addition to getting the extra light, another thing we can do is bundle up and go outside for even short periods of time. Even if it’s just to walk around the yard or take the dog for a short walk it can be helpful. Or maybe finding cool things you can do at night such as going to see holiday lights. Another thing that we can try is finding ways to exercise inside. This can look as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator one way.
Another common thing that can make the holiday season difficult for people is grief. Grief is a complicated emotion and shows up differently for each person at varying times. Going through the holiday seasons without a loved one can be very hard, even if it’s not your first holiday without the person. Grieving is not a linear path but has ups and downs and ebbs and flows. Furthermore, people can often feel confused, sad, and isolated knowing that it is the “happiest” time of the year and they feel very far from that. However, you are not alone or abnormal if you feel this way!
These are just a few reasons holidays can be hard for people, but there are many more reasons why people may be feeling holiday blues instead of holiday joy. Because of this, it is extra important to check in with the people we care about around the holiday times. Sometimes people need extra support, which is completely valid. If the holidays feel difficult for you or someone you know you can always reach out to us at Works Counseling Center for help and know that you’re not alone.