| Thu, Dec 13, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Memo: Feeling Your Best During the Holidays and Beyond

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

senior depression helpDuring this time of year, we often hear about the “joy of the season.” But you might not feel so joyful yourself. Or maybe you’ve noticed a loved one struggling with feelings of sadness or anxiety. This is very common. Realizing and accepting this can help get you or your loved one on your way to feeling your best during the holidays.

Holiday Blues or Something Else?

An important first step in managing feelings of sadness or anxiety can be making sure they aren’t symptoms of something more serious. Here are a few common reasons why you or someone you care about might not feel so “merry” during the holiday season.

  • Holiday Blues – Feelings of sadness or anxiety during or after the holiday season is sometimes called “holiday blues.” There can be many reasons for the holiday blues, like personal loss, family issues or financial pressure. Many people also have a let-down feeling once the excitement of the holidays has ended.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – SAD is a type of depression common during winter months. Shorter days and less sunlight can cause depression-like symptoms in some people. Talk to your doctor to learn more about SAD and what you can do about it.

  • Depression – If feelings of sadness or anxiety seem to last longer than the holiday season or winter months for you or a loved one, it might be time to talk to a doctor about depression. Depression is serious, but you and a doctor can work together to manage it.

What can you do?

If holiday blues are getting you or your loved one down, there’s good news. You can usually manage holiday blues with a few simple life changes. You may want to try:

  • Getting out. Sometimes being around other people can help ease feelings of loneliness. Get out and socialize or invite family and friends over for a visit.   

  • Asking for help. Don’t be afraid to ask relatives or others for help traveling to parties and events if you have trouble getting around. If you’re a caregiver, talk to your loved one to see if they need help getting to events.  

  • Helping others. Ask about volunteer opportunities in your area. Helping others is rewarding, which can help improve your or your loved one’s mood. Some good places to start might be your local senior center, your church or a website that can help you find volunteer opportunities in your area.

  • Raising a glass—mindfully. Be careful how much alcohol you drink. Too much can actually make sad feelings worse.

  • Talking about it. Talk to someone about your feelings. This may help you understand the reasons why you feel sad.

  • Knowing your limits. During the holidays, it’s easy to feel like you need to “do it all.” Try to focus less on the things that might stress you out, like spending money or taking on a lot of extra work. Focus more on things that make you happy, like getting in touch with family and friends or spending time at home watching the classics of the season on TV.

  • Accepting your feelings. Remember that what you’re feeling is common. Not everyone feels “merry” during the holidays.

  • Embracing change. Life brings change. It’s nice to hold onto memories. But it’s also important to live in the present and look to the future.

A Reminder

During the holidays, it may seem like everyone is feeling happy and joyful. But if you or your loved one don’t, that can be fine, too. As long as you know the difference between holiday blues and more serious issues, like depression, you can take the steps you need to feel your best during the holidays and throughout the year.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.


Medicare Memo: Engage and Enjoy—Medicare Made Clear Blog

10 Tips to Beat the Holiday BluesPsychology Today blog

6 Ways to Feel Happier, Be Healthier—Article on AARP.org


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