Holidays and depression go hand in hand for plenty of adults, but did you know that even children can suffer from the holiday blues? Whether it is holiday stress that leads to the seasonal depression or a case of post holiday blues, know how to help your child.
Holiday Blues or Holiday Stress?
Mayo Clinic psychiatric specialists recognize seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as a condition that affects adults in the colder months of the year. The lessening of natural light causes depression, which in term results in irritability, lack of energy and an unwillingness to socialize.
On the flipside is the holiday stress that is a largely self-imposed condition of doing too much with too little. Even as holidays and depression go hand in hand for adults, children, too, suffer from holiday blues. In some cases, the big buildup to Christmas and the subsequent letdown may actually cause a case of post holiday blues as well.
Are you suffering from holiday stress? If you are worn out from shopping, cleaning, cooking, preparing and running from store to store, your child – whom you most likely dragged along with you – is sure to feel some of the same. On the other hand, if you are suffering from the holiday blues (perhaps due to a divorce or death in the family) and mope around the house, the children will sense that something is wrong and display their own versions of the holiday blues.
Even as you cannot turn on and off how you feel at will, it is necessary to give children tools to deal with their own frustration, stress, sadness and maybe also letdown. This is especially crucial in the case of the post-holiday blues, which is easy for children to experience. With the holiday buildup going on for months, the one climactic morning leads to a sudden end of the season. School is looming large and the next holiday is months away. Who wouldn’t be depressed?
Giving the Child Tools for Coping with (post) Holiday Blues
Plan an activity of the middle of January
The parent who recognizes that a child suffers from the post-holiday blues should plan an enjoyable activity for the middle of January. Give the child a small trip, weekend getaway or visit to a favorite museum to look forward to. This takes the edge off the seasonal letdown.
Plan the summer vacation
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recognizes that beginning now to build up the next major event is a good way of helping the holiday enthusiasm to find a new outlet. Even if you already know where you will go, let the youngsters choose some sightseeing activities and go into detail planning them.
Relax with your children
If you practice yoga to make it through the holiday stress or blues, involve the child in learning these lessons. Visit a studio that offers family instructions and let the kids learn yoga exercises to calm the mind and body.
Get help with depression
If the holiday blues in the house is caused by an upset in the family dynamic, do not assume that you are the only one feeling the devastation. Make an appointment with a family counselor who specializes in treating children as well as adults.
Mayo Clinic: “It’s a SAD time of year”
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: “Post-Holiday Blues”