Got the holiday blues? You’re not alone.

Dr. Dionne Hart/MSR News Online

The holiday season seems to begin earlier every year. In September, I visited a large chain store featuring prominent displays for Labor Day, Halloween and Christmas in close proximity.

Like many, I enjoy an occasional Sunday watching “Lifetime” TV and eating comfort food; however, my plans changed when “Lifetime” switched to all Christmas movies all day until the holiday.

Perhaps I’m a Scrooge or a curmudgeon, but like many I don’t have a family that could be featured in a Hallmark movie, have never cooked a perfect turkey, find the search for a perfect gift stressful, and remember all too well those who are no longer seated at the table.

Yet, I cope by ordering my holiday meal, shopping all year for bargains, donating to a charity in memory of my loved ones, and sharing holidays most often with my chosen family. I’ve learned to cope with my feelings, but many others cannot.

The holiday season, like no other time of the year, promotes a narrative that makes you feel badly if you cannot afford to make grand purchases, do not have a picture-perfect family, aren’t skipping around humming holiday tunes, or if you practice a religion that does not celebrate Christmas.

First, you are not alone in experiencing holiday blues. It is a real issue and there are good strategies to cope with the holiday blues, such as improving your diet, avoiding alcohol, increasing exposure to sunlight, and speaking to a trusted friend.

If you develop feelings of loneliness, isolation, sadness, fatigue, sleep problems, or miss important events or work, speak to a mental health professional. If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek emergency assistance.

Call the Hennepin County Mobile Crisis Team at 612-348-2233 when a child 17 years old and younger is in crisis. For a crisis involving someone 18 or older, call 612-596-1223.

Dr. Dionne Hart is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic College of Graduate Medicine. She is board certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine. She practices community and public psychiatry at multiple sites. She’s held multiple leadership positions in national, state, and local medical organizations including serving as the first chair of the American Medical Association’s Minority Affairs Section. She currently serves as the vice president and president-elect of the Minnesota Association of African American Physicians, a future statewide chapter of the National Medical Association.

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