Thanksgiving just passed and Christmas and New Years are just around the corner. For many people it is –at last-– time for rejoicing, for festive partying, good cheer, fellowship, togetherness, family reunion, laughter and so forth. After a harsh year marked by financial crisis, fear of swine flu, and personal stress or even setbacks, it is time for optimism and good hopes for the coming year. Right!

Unfortunately, the holiday season does not have the same meaning for all… While the holiday celebrations are meant to bring joy for many, they mean sadness, family tensions, loneliness, nostalgia and despair for many others. These paradoxical feelings are well known as the Holiday Blues. What are the major causes of that rather psychological or sometimes psychosomatic syndrome?

The causes of Holiday Blues

To be honest, holiday blues are more or less a normal outcome of a stress-filled way of life at a specific season of the year, when people with a heavy social life are busy shopping for Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Years Eve.

Holiday blues differ from another illness called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a clinically diagnosed mood disorder more prevalent in the winter months. The blues are short-lived; they do not last more than a few days or a week or two after which the person resumes his or her regular mood and lifestyle. SAD, on the contrary, tends to last weeks or months and to be recurrent, reappearing winter after winter, regardless of a social stressor level. Researchers associate SAD with a decrease in mood-boosting brain chemicals like serotonin during the reduced daylight months. The blues do not seem to follow the same pattern. Depression in SAD is more severe; it is a feeling of deadness and defectiveness while the blues are just a temporary down type of feeling.

It is true that holiday blues are a response to too high expectations set by people who suffer from the discomfort. They hope they will be able to make up for a year gone wrong. They expect people to have changed and become better. They expect their own situation to have improved, and their previous “wish list” to have been fulfilled. When they realized that the hopes are dashed, the world has not changed and has even become more problematic, when all promises are broken, they get despondent and disappointed. In some extremes cases, some people even experience suicidal thoughts.

Financial difficulties and losses: loss of a family member, close friend, loss of health, loss or lack of fertility, loss of one’s youth, loss of one’s marriage, loss of important goods, of a job, etc. Some people are strong enough to cope with these difficulties of life. Some are not; which can make them prone to experience the blues.

In the same order of high expectations, some people are perfectionists. They want their holidays to be perfect, or special. They want everything in order in an imperfect situation. Those are individuals hooked to the holiday chores, they run around shopping, wrapping gifts, going to parties, pleasing everyone, receiving or greeting friends and family with the most meticulous attention. They spend repeated nights without sleeping; they end up getting overwhelmed and exhausted, sometimes sick. Furthermore, with the present economic crisis houses, cars and other goods are being foreclosed or repossessed, and the excessive expenses to please people (Some of them, not even grateful or aware of your kindness and “generosity”) can ruin one’s saving account or credit card availability, creating debts for the following year which, in turn, lead to further complication of the situation and exacerbation of the blues.

Preventing and Coping with the blues

Dealing with the holiday blues requires a sense of balance and the avoidance of all excesses both emotionally and physically before and during the holiday season. The approach, as we always conceive it, should be holistic, covering all levels of our being: mind, body, soul and spirit. There’s an interdependence of these four levels, the result of which is homeostasis, good nutrition, good emotional health, great physical body function and happiness.

First of all, we should be realistic. As we have seen, most blues are due to too high expectations, too much demand of perfection and satisfaction. The days gone by will not return. So, let go of the past. Even the deceased loved ones are well gone. The only thing we can do is keep them present in the holidays by remembering the good and the funny things they did. We ought to accept the realties of life.

Life brings changes; generations of people also change and perceptions change. Let’s keep our eyes focus on the future and not be slaves of the past. Comparison does nothing more than adding sadness, melancholy and frustration to the blues.

Another tip is to delegate responsibilities of the holiday tasks. Pace yourself to get sufficient sleep and rest. Do not indulge in alcohol drinking. Excess of alcoholic beverage makes it even more acute for the blues, and makes us more depressed. Avoid sugar, it is an immune depressant and creates low blood sugar problems which can increase symptoms of depression

Another point on which all the experts, psychologists, moralists, religious leaders are unanimous, regarding the holiday blues, is the virtue of a good action posed during the holidays. For example, volunteering in a shelter serving food or other goods to less fortunate people, taking gifts to the children’s homes or schools, being nice to people in need of affection or attention, visiting the sick in the hospital, all this brings a real blessing and provides a sense of healing potential and inner satisfaction.

Final and most important, it’s the time to be health conscious by eating healthy and detoxing. The best approach includes eating healthy organic vegetables, drink berry antioxidants early morning. Have a Green juice mid-morning for cleansing and increase energy. Include protein smoothies as a snack which has amino acids that have anti-depressant properties. Keep your meals simple by proper food combining. Eliminate all processed and chemical laden foods for they will clog your brain and make the blues worse. Take B Vitamins with B6, B12 and folate to help with stress. After the holidays start your 21 day detox. To learn more about detoxing and to order your detox kit, please go to our OFFICIAL website: www.mvdietdetox.com.

Do not forget your daily exercises like walking, aerobics, yoga, chi Kung; tai chi etc. by exercising it completes the job with their antidepressant and relaxant action.

Your partner in wellness, Dr Roni DeLuz, ND, RN, Ph.D