Thanksgiving Blues: Ideas for Handling Them

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Thanksgiving blues can be seen with this photo of sunlight on autumn leaves.
November 20, 2023

It’s that time of year again: the holiday season is upon us. November unofficially kicks off the annual holiday season. The first big seasonal event is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time for millions of people to come together and appreciate family and friends. Unfortunately, for others it often ushers in the Thanksgiving blues, which may sound like a mild malady but in actuality is a real struggle.

While the Thanksgiving blues is not something a psychiatrist will ever diagnose, it is an indicator of a potentially larger mental health problem. The team of Orange County mental health professionals at SoCal Empowered is ready to help you discuss this situation if you or a loved one is suffering. In the meantime perhaps some ideas regarding how to manage a case of the Thanksgiving blues could help you get through the first difficult hurdle of the holiday season.

The Thanksgiving Blues Are Part of a Real Problem

We’ve discussed the challenges surrounding mental health during the holidays in the past, and while many assume that this situation is limited to the holidays that arise in December, Thanksgiving blues hit countless people across the country for countless reasons. A few examples of why people may encounter this problem include:

  • Loneliness – Millions of people across the United States will be traveling to spend time with loved ones over Thanksgiving. Millions of people will not. Many of those who will not are simply unable to travel for any number of reasons, including financial and scheduling concerns. This will leave many lonely and down that they are not with their loved ones for the holiday.
  • Recent losses – People across the map lose loved ones during the year. For many, this Thanksgiving will be the first holiday that they encounter without a loved one in their lives because he or she passed away recently. That’s a very difficult situation to overcome, even for those who are not struggling with mental health challenges.
  • Depression – For some who may already be dealing with mental health challenges, the Thanksgiving blues signify an intensification of a form of depression that they may already be dealing with, whether they’re aware of it or not.
  • Anxiety – Some people are afraid to travel, while others are not comfortable with spending time with others, even those who know them best. This could signify an anxiety problem instead of the appearance of the Thanksgiving blues.

The Holidays Are a Real Challenge For Those Already Suffering

The Thanksgiving blues can hit anyone this time of year, and it can drag anyone down for a period of time. However, this is an even more serious situation for people who are already struggling with mental health challenges. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, published a report in recent years that found that nearly two-thirds of people with mental health challenges see their conditions worsen during the holidays.

Not only does this present a problem for those who are already fighting a mental health battle, but basic scheduling can also place obstacles in the way of a person’s peace of mind. That’s because many private clinics and psychology practices are closed for the holiday weekend, and while there is almost always a contact number for people who encounter a crisis, this added stress alone can be extremely difficult to manage.

Ideas For Managing the Thanksgiving Blues

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or strategy that works to eliminate the Thanksgiving blues when they strike. However, there are steps that you or a loved one can take if this is a situation that sounds all too familiar:

  1. Stay busy – Yes, most things are closed over Thanksgiving weekend, or at least on that day. However, that presents an opportunity to get out and do things when others are eating turkey. Thanksgiving may be a great day for a nice hike or, depending on where you live, a day on the beach. It won’t be crowded and it will be serene.
  2. Self-improvement – If you’re not the active type or you live in an area where weather isn’t conducive to being outside, spend the holiday with the television off and take on one of those projects that you know needs to be done that you’ve been putting off for months or longer. Clean out that closet or organize that home office.
  3. Positive thoughts – Self-empowerment is something that the team at SoCal Empowered believes in strongly. That involves what you’re telling yourself, so when you wake up that day, make sure you use a positive internal voice and fight if necessary to keep it that way throughout the day and/or weekend.
  4. Distract yourself – Is there a movie you’ve been looking forward to seeing or a book you’ve been hoping for an opportunity to read? This is the day or weekend to do this, as it’ll take your mind off of things and keep you engaged.
  5. Give your time – There is no shortage of people in need, and those needs are only exacerbated this time of year. If you need to do something to boost your self esteem, take a few hours to volunteer.

The bottom line with regards to the Thanksgiving blues is that you should do things to distract yourself. The less time you spend thinking about what day it is, who you’re not seeing and what you’re missing, the better.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

While we believe in the ideas above regarding the management of the Thanksgiving blues, they will not be enough for some people who are truly suffering. If this includes you or someone you love, then what you should do is contact our team of Orange County mental health professionals as soon as possible. We will listen to what you have to say and help you decide on the next best steps. Contact us today to get started on the healing you both need and deserve.

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