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Managing ‘Holiday Blues’ after Personal Loss

This is my first holiday season since my husband’s death. I have supportive friends and family, but still feel sad and lonely. How can I lift my spirits?

“Memories of a lost loved one can be saddening this time of year, especially if these are the first holidays without your special someone,” says Robert Dickinson, M.D., Managing Physician of the Executive Health Assessment Program at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “Make an effort to spend quality time with family and friends who share and understand your feelings.”

Dr. Dickinson also encourages volunteering in community or faith-based charity outreach programs as an effective coping strategy for grief.

“Helping others who are less fortunate can help lift your spirits, while contributing to the holiday spirit of giving,” he says.

Dr. Dickinson says that for many, the holidays can be stressful. Behavioral health specialists call this seasonal condition the “holiday blues.” Causes may include increased financial burdens or memories of a missed loved one.

His advice for beating the blues includes setting a reasonable gift-giving budget that won’t have you dreading credit card bills in 2011, while creating new holiday traditions and embracing family and friends with you now.

“If, despite your best efforts to remain upbeat, you still feel overly sad for a sustained period of time, please consider seeing your doctor for a physical checkup and to discuss the possibility of professional counseling,” concludes Dr. Dickinson, who cares for patients in the Mavis and Mary Kelsey Specialty Suite at Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus clinic, near the Texas Medical Center.