It’s that time of year again! The trees are decorated, the lights are twinkling, and holiday music is playing everywhere you go. For many people, the holidays are a time of happiness and celebration. But for some, the holidays can be a difficult time. If your child is feeling down during this holiday season, they may be experiencing what’s known as the “holiday blues.”
What Are the Holiday Blues?
The holiday blues is a type of low mood that affects some people during the months leading up to and following the holidays. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, loneliness, changes in routine, inadequate sleep, unrealistic expectations, gloomy weather, and financial worries. Symptoms of the holiday blues may include feeling sadness, stress, fatigue, irritability, isolation, and difficulty concentrating.
Holiday blues can affect any age, including children and teenagers. These kids are breaking their typical school routine by being on winter break, are constantly surrounded by fantasies of holiday miracles and high expectations, are away from their friends, and dealing with nasty weather changes. Not to mention, kids are like sponges — they absorb information, moods, and reactions from their parents and can easily become overwhelmed, especially if their parents are stressed too.
Recognize The Holiday Blues vs. Depression
For kids who experience the holiday blues, the festive season can trigger underlying mental health issues like anxiety or depression. But there is a clear distinction between the two, and it’s important that parents can recognize the difference.
The holiday blues tend to disappear once the season is over and life returns to its regular routine. On the other hand, depression is a serious mental health issue that can impact an individual’s daily life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 2 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with depression. Symptoms of depression in children will usually last longer than the holiday season and can include insomnia, loss of energy or appetite, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts.
If your child is expressing any of these symptoms, seek professional assistance from a mental health specialist immediately.
How Can Parents Help?
If you think your child may be experiencing the holiday blues, there are several things you can do to help them.
- First, try to create a routine for them during the holidays. Having a set schedule can help provide structure and stability during such a chaotic time. A fantastic solution is to start a new family tradition your kids can expect to participate in every year, whether it’s taking a walk after dinner or driving around town to look at the Christmas lights.
- Make sure to give them plenty of opportunities to socialize with other kids their age. Staying connected with friends and family can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Set realistic expectations for your child. Everyone has a tendency to over-commit during the holidays, so make sure not to overload your kids with too many activities and tasks. Make sure they know what to expect well in advance, so as to not become disappointed when things aren’t as special as they dreamed.
- Encourage them to express their feelings openly and honestly. Talking about their feelings can help them understand and cope with what they’re going through. Make sure you let them know that they are not alone and that everything they’re feeling is normal.
- Most importantly, create a space of acceptance and understanding by listening to their concerns and providing support. Remind them that no matter how they’re feeling, you are there for them. Be patient and let your kids come to you whenever they need you.
- Finally, don’t forget to be kind to yourself as well. Parents often carry the bulk of the holiday workload and can become overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed during this time. Your kids can tell when you are stressed, so make sure to take some time out of your day just for you.
The holidays can be a tough time for kids who experience the holiday blues. If your child is feeling down this season, there are several things you can do to help them. Try to create a routine for them, encourage them to socialize with other kids their age, and encourage them to express their feelings openly and honestly. By taking these steps, you can help your child have a happy and healthy holiday season.