top of page
  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Don’t Let November become "Low-Vember" – How to Avoid the Holiday Blues

When I was growing up in Clearwater, Florida I had this vision of how Thanksgiving should be: A happy family sitting around the table for a big lunch and then heading to the beach with siblings and cousins in the afternoon while the guys stayed home to watch Gator football. We all have a story in our head of how life is supposed to be and when that story doesn't occur it causes sadness and depression. (Kind of like the recently fired Dallas Cowboys football coach, Wade Phillips, may feel this Thanksgiving). Surprisingly, 2/3 of us will experience depression around Thanksgiving and the holidays. That's a lot of bummed out people! I talked about this subject recently on the FOX 4 Good Day TV show.

For those of you who recently completed the survey in my last electronic newsletter you answered the question, "My constant worry is ____." Your top answers were: #1: Finances, having enough money, being able to retire #2: Kids #3: Nothing (These people are definitely in the Smart Zone!) #4: Health #5: Career/Job If you haven't taken the survey yet, we would love for your answers to be included. Please click here to take it. It only takes 3 minutes and it's critical research for my next book. These worries become more magnified as we enter the holiday season. We can all feel blue but the symptoms of depression that require professional intervention include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness

  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex

  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions

  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping

  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain

  • Restlessness, irritability

  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

  • In the extreme: thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts. Click here for a list of suicide facts.

Experiencing one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you are clinically depressed. Rather, it's a combination of these symptoms that warrants professional attention. Use these Smart Moves to stay in the Smart Zone and stay out of Low-Vember:

  • Scale back. On the survey you took a few weeks ago many of you reported your constant worry is "getting everything done." We can all relate to this, especially now. Scale back the holiday decorating. Ask holiday guests to bring a dish so you aren't cooking it all. Use instant mashed potatoes (I like them better anyway).

  • Do not be alone. I know many people enjoy alone time but if you are prone to holiday depression you should spend time with other people during this time. Volunteering is a great way to spend time with others. This is a season where many people are in need and helping others will cheer you up.

  • Realize that being edgy is a sign of depression. Agitation and irritability are signs of depression. If you feel edgy take conscious steps to minimize your stress.

  • Stay away from alcohol. This time of year it can be free flowing. Alcohol is a depressant. You may feel good for a little while but alcohol will leave you feeling tired and bummed out.

  • Take care of yourself. If you are healthy and feel good it makes the holidays better for everyone. Exercise, even if it's just walking the dogs, is one of the best mood boosters.

  • Watch what you eat. I hate this one but nutritional experts believe that depression is caused by the excessive sugar and fatty foods consumed over the holidays. I'm going to have to really work on this one. My friends are all great cooks.

  • Music can affect your mood. Use it to soothe your feelings and emotions. Steer clear of the sound track from Titanic and stick with uplifting music. I feel cheered up when listening to 80's music because it reminds me of high school and a care free time in my life. I'm starting to list my favorites on iTunes. Watch for my list in my next newsletter. What are your favorites? I'd love to know! Email me and let me know.

Even though my Thanksgiving doesn't look like my childhood vision I've found new ways over the years to spend time with good friends and family. And I still watch Gator football! Just for fun, watch this hilarious family gathering on Modern Family that didn't go as planned.

bottom of page