Beating the Holiday Blues

Image Credit: PhotoSpin

“‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly,” “Deck the Halls” and “Joy to the World.”

Everyone is happy this time of year, right? Wrong.

The reality is many people feel lonely, sad, anxious and depressed at this time of year.

“Feeling restless, isolated and unhappy are symptoms of what is typically called the holiday blues,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of the Behavioral Health Services division of the County’s Health and Human Services Agency.  “While they could occur during any holiday or vacation period, they are more common during the December holidays.”

How can you beat the holiday blues?

“It’s all about balance,” said Aguirre. “The goal is to take some control over the holidays to avoid the stress and the pressure.”

Aguirre also offered these tips:

  • Establish realistic goals and expectations
  • Set a spending limit and stick to it
  • Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Get involved with others and spend time with people who are supportive and caring
  • Look for opportunities to express kindness by volunteering at a shelter, meal delivery service or senior center
  • Eat healthy, exercise regularly and try to laugh; laughing is a great aerobic exercise

Although they can be emotionally intense and upsetting, the blues usually subside after the holidays and normal routines are resumed.

After the holidays, if you are still feeling sad and discouraged, or symptoms last longer than two weeks, you may be struggling with depression, so keep an eye for the following signs:

  • Loss of interest in once-pleasurable and enjoyable activities
  • Eating more or less than usual, or gaining or losing weight
  • Having trouble sleeping, or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling slow or restless
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, or inadequate
  • Having difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly or making decisions
  • Persistent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Withdrawal from others

“If your symptoms don’t improve and are interfering with your normal relationships, seek help from your primary care physician or a mental health professional,” Aguirre said.

For information about mental health resources, visit People suffering from depression or from an alcohol or drug-related problem should seek help by calling the County’s Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240.






José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact