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Tips for Beating the Holiday Blues

Veteran with depression

It is no accident the Merle Haggard song "If We Make it Through December" was a big hit. Every year a number of people get the 'blues' around the holidays. There are many reasons people may go through holiday 'blues.'

Beyond normal stress, low energy, money concerns, and demands of the season, Veterans often have added pressures. Parties and large family gatherings can cause stress for those with PTSD. Many Veterans are diabetic, and events centered on food can add to feelings of loss. Hospitalization or illness can lead to feelings of isolation.

Simple things you can do to help manage holiday blues:

  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.

  • Do not be afraid to ask for help. Let others share in planning for events.

  • Make a list. Organize your time. Save time for yourself!

  • Get enough rest. It is difficult to cope when you are tired.

  • Look toward the future. Do not dwell on the past. Each holiday season is unique and should be enjoyed.

  • Enjoy free holiday activities. Look at holiday lights, go window-shopping, or take in a community or church program.

  • Spend time with people you care about. Reach out and make new friends. Contact someone you have not heard from in a while.

  • Acknowledge your feelings. Recognize and accept that both good and bad feelings may occur during the holidays. This is normal.

  • Set limits. It is easy to overindulge around the holidays. Maintain a balanced diet. Do not drink too much alcohol. Drinking alcohol may increase your feelings of depression.

  • Consider volunteering. Remember the spirit of giving for the holidays. You can help at a non-profit organization. You can visit a shut-in. Your VA Voluntary Service has many opportunities to touch the lives of Veterans.

Anytime you are feeling depressed, call someone. Talk to a friend, family member, clergy member, or health care provider. At every VA hospital, there is a chaplain available to talk. Remember, it¿s normal for people to have a different feeling during the holidays. And, while being sad or tired or having trouble falling or staying asleep may be common this time of year, be mindful these symptoms don¿t extend too far past the holidays or grow into something bigger. If the blues become overwhelming, please call your health care team for support. You can find your local VA health care resource here: The people at the VA know how to help you manage these feelings.

Read More

Veterans Crisis Hotline

PTSD Basics (VA Mental Health) 

VA Voluntary Service 

Updated December 14, 2017