It’s a common phenomenon: presents are unwrapped, resolutions are made, decorations are put away, bills arrive and with them often come the post-holiday blues. We often feel deflated, let down, and perhaps weighed down by a few extra pounds. Are you having a hard time resuming your normal activities? Has your energy been replaced by the winter sluggishness? Does it seem no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to find your joy in the aftermath of the holidays? Then stick with us today as we talk about hope for overcoming SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder or the winter blues.
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Quotables from the Episode:
- There is a diagnosis called SAD “Seasonal Affective Disorder” which often happens to people during the winter months when it is often dark, gloomy, and less sunlight during the day. The lack of sunlight does contribute to seasonal affective disorder which is a form of depression during the winter months.
- ALL depression is significant. But often we experience a let-down following the holidays which contributes to mild, post-holiday blues. And frequently we experience expectations that aren’t met during the holiday season that leave us feeling inadequate or unappreciated or devalued which can leave us feeling down after the holidays are over.
- To make matters worse, not everyone experiences a merry Christmas, which can make going into a new year even more difficult.
- Grief and depression are NOT the same thing, but often, those who are grieving also experience a bout of depression.
- We serve a God who is rich in mercy and grace, but so often we don’t extend the same grace and mercy to ourselves or others.
- I’m grateful for the Biblical greats who we can read about who have struggled with depression. Just like David or Elijah. David often cried “why so downcast oh my soul?” and in the next moment he was praising God.
- “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” was written to encourage others who are struggling with the blues or a more significant case of depression. It’s the kind of book I wish I had had when I was depressed.
- If you are experiencing a change in mood, a change in appetite, energy, or sleep, and have been experiencing such changes for more than a couple of weeks, you may be experiencing SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder, the blues or a more significant depression. But that is not something to be ashamed of. And you need to know you are not alone.
- There isn’t a magic bullet for depression. It’s something we have to walk through. But God walks with us and can bring us through it.
- There is no right or wrong experience of depression. Everyone’s experience is different, and it can change from time to time. Not everyone who is depressed feels down all the time…many experience depression as irritability, agitation, or anger.
- Overcoming SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression or the blues is a process. You didn’t become depressed overnight and it won’t go away overnight. But small baby steps will make a difference.
To help mitigate the effect of the post-holiday blues:
- Plan one thing each day that you enjoy. (i.e. take a bubble bath, read for 15-20 minutes) Write it in your day planner. It prioritizes self-care. If you don’t take care of yourself, you have nothing left to pour out to others. When we feel depressed, we can feel like we have nothing left to look forward to, especially after the holidays, but this can give us something small to look forward to.
- Instead of listening to the news, listen to calming music or text a friend to give yourself an emotional holiday for a few minutes. Sometimes when you are the one experiencing the blues or depression, you want others to reach out to you. It’s easy to believe the lie that no one understands or cares. But be the one to reach out to someone else. Start the dialogue. Don’t let yourself give in to the enemy of your soul who wants you to isolate. (Karl Meninger gave the advice to get up off the couch, go out their door, go across the railroad track and find someone else to help because when we invest in others it brings joy. Today we don’t even have to go across the railroad tracks…we can text, email, or share with others through social media).
- Establish a set bedtime. This allows your brain to replenish it’s naturally occurring neurotransmitters that we often take medication for. A consistent bedtime is crucial.
- Enjoy a balanced diet with an emphasis on sufficient protein. Without protein, your brain cannot think clearly or regenerate those naturally occurring neurotransmitters.
- Just 10-15 minutes of exercise can make a positive difference in our mood. Many people who are depressed don’t feel like they have any energy. But the less you do, the less energy you will have. If you start with 5 minutes of exercise a day, you will get more energy and you can extend that to 10 minutes a day, and then 15 minutes, etc. Find some form of exercise that you enjoy, that will help you continue with it even when you don’t feel like it. You might also consider exercising with a friend. That helps with accountability, as well as the social aspect which can help our mood.
- Pay attention to the thoughts you have. Our feelings are the outward manifestation of the thoughts you believe. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive. That means pay attention to your thoughts and ask if they agree with what God says. If they do not, you must replace those thoughts with the truth of God’s word.
- When you read God’s word and come across scriptures that really hit you in the heart, write them down and repeat them out loud. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Then when you need them, the Holy Spirit will remind you of those truths, but he can only remind us of those things we’ve already known.
- Consider listening to our other podcast episodes about depression.
- Consider reading Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the Hope Prevails Bible Study for more information and advice written from the perspective of both a doctor who has diagnosed and treated patients, as well as one who has walked through the depression journey herself.
- If you have experienced any of the signs and symptoms of depression mentioned above, for more than a couple weeks, consider consulting with your general practitioner to rule out any contributing medical condition, or to see if depression is the cause of such symptoms.
- If any and all medical conditions have been ruled out, and depression deemed to be the reason for your struggle, consider seeking out the advice and wisdom of a mental health practitioner for ongoing support.
Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 30:5, Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
2 Corinthians 5:17, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Recommended Resources: (If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK ) is a United States-based suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. After dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the caller is routed to their nearest crisis center to receive immediate counseling and local mental health referrals. The Lifeline supports people who call for themselves or someone they care about. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- 6 Tips for Coping with the Post-Holiday Blues
- Is It the Blues or Something Else?
- When You Have the Blues
- The Post-Holiday Blues
- Two Triggers for the Post-Holiday Blues
- A Fast Track to the Holiday Blues
- Pro-Actively Beat the Winter Blues Part 1
- Pro-Actively Beat the Winter Blues Part 2
- Pro-Actively Beat the Winter Blues Part 3
- Pro-Actively Beat the Winter Blues Part 4
- Pro-Actively Beat the Winter Blues Part 5
- Pro-Actively Beat the Winter Blues Part 6
- Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengtson
- Breaking Anxiety’s Grip Free Study Guide
- Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, winner of the Christian Literary Award Reader’s Choice Award
- Hope Prevails Bible Study by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, winner of the Christian Literary Award Reader’s Choice Award
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For more hope, stay connected with Dr. Bengtson at:
About Dr. Michelle Bengtson:
Dr. Michelle Bengtson is an international speaker, and the author of the bestselling, award-winning “Hope Prevails: Insights From A Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression,” the award-winning companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study” and the newly released “Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises” She has been a board certified clinical neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. This doctor knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to help others be all God created them to be. Using sound practical tools, she affirms worth and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm.
She and her husband of thirty-two years have two teenage sons and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: https://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com and is on most social media platforms. She is also a popular podcast show host of “Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson” at Apple Podcasts.
Hosted By: Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Audio Technical Support: Bryce Bengtson