Post-Holiday Blues: Caregiving with Seasonal Affective Disorder
Throughout the chaos of the holidays, all you wanted was a moment to catch your breath and relax. Now the holidays are over and you have that chance, so why are you feeling so sad?
The post-holiday blues are a common phenomenon. They can be especially difficult for caregivers. Here are a few reasons why the post-holiday blues hits caregivers so hard.
What Causes the Post-Holiday Blues
After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the sudden change to a cold, quiet January can lead to loneliness and depression. Being around the people you love and having them spend time with you and the loved one you care for can make you feel supported, loved, and validated. If you don’t see them often, these mini reunions can create great joy. Then the holidays end and you’re left missing the ones you love, feeling isolated and overwhelmed with the everyday responsibilities of caregiving.
Holidays come with a lot of expectations. But the reality doesn’t always measure up. Interactions with relatives might be disheartening. Gifts may be disappointing. Family members may not have helped out as much with the caregiving as you would have liked. As the holiday fades away, it’s easy to cling to these disappointments and sink into depression.
Holidays are all about cherished memories, but when a loved one is no longer with us or when we are caring for someone with a terminal illness, it can cast a dark shadow over the festivities. These feelings can linger into the new year as the loss or upcoming loss is faced without the distractions of holiday gatherings.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that tends to affect people during the winter as the days become shorter. SAD is not simply a bad day here and there. Those who experience SAD feel depressed most days of the week. Symptoms include low energy, feelings of hopelessness, weight gain, and trouble sleeping. Add this to the demands of caregiving, and every day can feel overwhelming.
How to Treat Post-Holiday Blues as a Caregiver
Talk to Someone
There are people who can help. If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, a grief support group can help you work through your feelings. For those experiencing SAD or other types of depression, speak to your doctor about treatments. There is a wide range of support available from special lighting to therapy sessions or medication. If you need extra help caring for your loved one, reach out to Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care. Our team can help you determine the right level of care for your loved one’s current symptoms to supplement your caregiving.
Be Kind to Yourself
The holidays are fun, but they can also be full of stress, food high in sugar and fat, and poor fitness choices. January is a time to start over. Start planning healthy meals for the week and get back on track with exercise even if it’s just a short walk once a day. Read a good book or watch a comedic television show or movie that you love. It’s hard to make time for yourself when caring for a loved one, but it’s important to make it happen.
Forgive Your Loved Ones
Your friends and family may have disappointed you over the holidays – and that can be hurtful. It’s okay to feel that pain. But if you hold on to the disappointment, you are only hurting yourself. It’s hard to let go of anger and pain, but remembering all you have to be grateful for can help. Instead of reliving the disappointment, spend a few minutes in meditation each day thinking of all the people who have been kind and loving to you. Relive those moments of joy and love and hold onto that feeling.
Connect with Others
If loneliness is giving you the post-holiday blues, reach out to friends. Even if the weather makes getting out difficult, you can connect by phone, email, or good old-fashioned letters. If you can get out, make plans to meet a friend for lunch or take a fun class like cooking, painting, or yoga. Let people know you could use some extra support caring for your loved one. Sometimes people aren’t sure how to help, so make sure you tell them. Let them know that you could use a break so you can have that lunch with a friend or ask for help picking up the groceries.
The post-holiday blues are real – especially for those who are already navigating the challenges of caregiving. Crossroads offers a variety of services to support caregivers. Call us at 1-888-564-3405 to learn more about these services.
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