December 15, 2013
by Rose Wilson
Well, it’s that time of year… again. The holiday season is upon us, along with some of the shortest days of the year. Add in the office parties, family get-togethers, and obligations for gift giving, cooking, hosting, planning, and travel, and you’ve got a recipe for some major stress. While some people are quick to get into the holiday spirit, others don’t react so favorably.
Researchers have found the claim that there are higher rates of suicides and depression during the holidays to be false; however, the added pressures, stresses, and expectations of the holiday season can certainly make the ‘holiday blues’ a reality for some people, especially for those already prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The Effect of Social Media on the Holiday Blues
Idyllic scenes of family and friends gathering together to celebrate abound on social media sites at this time of year, and for those who don’t necessarily have a full schedule of events to attend there seems to be a major disparity that can aggravate depression. Studies are now beginning to show a link between social media sites and how they contribute to depression in two ways: envy and feelings of isolation.
Tips to Help Prevent the Holiday Blues
1. If you’ve ever found yourself upset after a virtual interaction on social media or distracted from your job or important activities because of your time on social media, December may be the perfect time to take a digital holiday. Take some time to focus on your real-world encounters with others. If you do enjoy connecting with friends and family via social media sites, it’s important to set limits. You may even consider employing the use of one of many apps available now that will block social media and other time-sucking websites.
It’s important to keep in mind your own social media etiquette when posting or responding to status updates and photos online. Just as you’re sensitive to what other people are posting, your friends and family are sensitive to what you might be posting. There’s no reason to sound off on how annoyed or down you are feeling and it won’t help you feel any better anyway. Always share responsibly: when you post photos of your parties and celebrations, make sure to keep your audience in mind. Uncle John may not appreciate that he wasn’t invited to the family gathering this year, and seeing photos of all the festivities on his timeline probably won’t help ease the tension.
2. Another way to help deal with the holiday blues (or the blues any time of year) is to avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Sure, it’s tempting to throw back a few glasses of wine at a dinner party to pick up your spirits, but alcohol’s sedative effect will ensure that your mood stays low in the long term. Plus, the withdrawal symptoms that people feel when they stop drinking are sometimes much worse than the original low mood that precipitated the alcohol consumption.
3. Maintaining a healthy diet and staying physically fit are two more great ways to keep your spirits up this holiday season. Not only are there long-term health benefits to physical activity, but studies show that regular exercise immediately elevates a person’s mood and lowers depression levels. During the holidays the lack of a regular work schedule and the many opportunities to over-indulge in sweets and high-fat foods can throw us off kilter, so be prepared with small, healthy snacks so you don’t risk hunger spells that can lead to a lapse in judgment. Google ‘quick exercises’ or ‘anywhere workout’ and engage in a few short routines that you can do wherever you find yourself (even in the car!)
4. Another great way to cope with the holiday blues – and keep your mind busy during the holiday season – is focus your attention outward and volunteer your time to help those less fortunate than yourself. If you don’t feel social enough to volunteer in a group setting, check out the myriad of local opportunities available via a site like Volunteer Match. There are plenty of ways you can help that don’t involve large groups, and some clerical work that can even be done remotely.
The holiday season may bring with it some feelings of depression, but remember these tip, keep your head up, and try to spread some joy to others who may be suffering as much, if not more, than you. In doing so, you may just help improve you own mood.
Rose Wilson is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant with a focus on technology for small businesses, but she enjoys writing about all the ways social media affects our daily lives. On most days you can find her working from her porch with her two dogs right outside of Atlanta, GA. Visit her site here: http://rosehaywood.wordpress.com/,