The holiday season should be joyful, merry, and bright. But for some, the family get togethers, holiday parties, and increased financial responsibilities exacerbate feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression, and anxiety says the Best Friends Animal Society. Referred to as the “holiday blues” or the “Christmas Blues” these seasonal feelings of sadness don’t allow some to enjoy holiday cheer.
There may be a path for those, we already know that pets have a positive impact on mental health so it makes sense that around the holidays when mental health can be affected that pets can offer support and indeed provide a cure for holiday or Christmas blues.
Causes of The Holidays Blues
Health Shots, reports that even people who enjoy the holidays can experience holiday blues. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the holidays worsen the condition of 64 percent of people who already have a mental illness and according to Health Shots, there are five general reasons we experience the holiday blues.
5 Causes for Holiday or Christmas Blues
Trying to follow holiday traditions
There are many expectations surrounding the holidays. Many people associate the holidays with happy memories, social gatherings, and rituals. These expectations can cause anxiety.
Holidays are a time to be with family and the expectation of spending increased time with family may lead to juggling multiple obligations, coordinating schedules, and adhering to holiday traditions, adding stress.
Seasonal affective disorder
In the Western hemisphere holidays are also at a time when days are shorter and darker and some people, as a result may experience major depressive disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern. This is referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which may contribute to the holiday blues.
Holidays are also a time when you may be concerned about your finances. If you’ve already spent a large portion of your money at the start of the month, this can lead to financial stress.
Over-committing to someone and then failing to fulfill can put a strain on yourself. Along with this, avoid having unrealistic expectations for yourself, as both of these situations can lead to holiday stress.
How to Deal With or Get Over the Holiday Blues
Dr. Shamantha resident of behavioral and mental health at Fortis Hospital recommends some ways to get over or deal with the Holiday blue which include:
- Prioritizing activities to avoid overwhelm.
- Make a realistic agenda for the day and check your holiday expectations.
- Enjoy me-time, but don’t isolate yourself from your friends and family.
- Get plenty of sleep and rest well to improve your mood.
- If you’re experiencing stress due to a loss of a loved one, (which may include a pet) try to get support.
- Practice meditation or yoga poses which can help you manage your stress levels.
- To get rid of holiday blues, do not overeat or eat unhealthy foods because this can affect your mood and overall health.
- Take a break
What Dr. Shamantha misses is the value of pets and pets what having a pet can do for mental health and curing the Holiday blues.
According to the Best Friends Animal Society, one way to combat the isolation and increased depression brought on by Holiday Blues that many people may experience during what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year is to consider adopting or fostering a pet in need.
“Dogs didn’t get the title man’s best friend for nothing,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of cats and dogs in America’s shelters by 2025.
“Dogs and cats are incredible companions, and they really have a positive impact on our overall mental health. These loving creatures can help reduce stress and feelings of loneliness and isolation not only during the holiday season, but all year-round.”
As reported in How Pets Help With Mental Health pets support our mental health in a number of ways including:
- Pets love us unconditionally. The depth of this love is a continuous joy.
- Pets provide health benefits of daily walks and the social delights of meeting other dog walkers.
- Responsibility of pets teaches kids to be responsible, kind, and compassionate.
- Pets also reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression, giving people a reason to get up in the morning.
- Pets can provide you with emotional support as you go about your day. Cuddling up with a pet can boost your spirits when you are feeling low.
The bond that forms between a pet owner and their pet is similar to the bond that a mother forms with her baby.
Best Friends notes that studies have also shown that eye contact with your dog can release oxytocin—known as the love hormone—which can relieve both anxiety and depression.
Additionally, simply being around pets can lower cortisol, which in turn, helps reduce feelings of stress, which can be amplified around the holidays.
To help adopters bring a new dog or cat home this holiday season, Embrace Pet Insurance is covering adoption fees at all Best Friends Animal Society lifesaving centers and programs in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Northwest Arkansas, Salt Lake City, and sanctuary in Kanab, Utah through December 31. Pets at Best Friends are fixed, vaccinated, microchipped, and ready to go home.
The Importance of Adoption
National data trends show that 2022 has been a tough year for shelters. Across the country, shelters are struggling with higher intake, while adoptions, fosters and rescues are not keeping pace. This has led to a population imbalance, with more animals in shelters staying for longer periods, and causing increased strain on shelter staff.
This has led to the current crisis of most U.S. shelters being at or over capacity, resulting in pets being more at risk for being killed due to lack of space.
“If you are unable to adopt or foster at this time, please consider volunteering with your local animal rescue group or shelter,” urged Castle. “And, you never know, you may just fall in love and bring home your very own pet just in time for the holidays.”
For more information or to find a Best Friends location near you, visit bestfriends.org.