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Help Your Members Fight the Holiday Blues


When most people think about the holiday season they’re filled with joy and celebration. However, for some stress has become synonymous with the holidays more commonly named the holiday blues.

According to a survey by American Psychological Association, a majority of participants reported feelings of happiness, love and high spirits over the holidays, but these emotions were often accompanied by feelings of fatigue, irritability, bloating and sadness.

Additionally, 38% of participants who experience the holiday blues said their stress level increased during the holiday season. The top stressors included lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving and family gatherings. Surprisingly, 56% of respondents reported they experienced the most amount of stress at work. Only 29% experienced greater amounts of stress at home.

The National Alliance on Mental Health also conducted a survey on the topic. Here are some of the top key points:

  • The holiday blues are different from mental illness, but short-term mental health problems must be taken seriously. They can lead to clinical anxiety and depression.
  • People already living with mental illness are often affected by the holiday blues.
  • Children and teens get the blues too. The highest rate for child psychiatric hospitalizations occurs in winter.

After facing almost two years or uncertainty and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely more people will experience this phenomenon and your facility is suited to lend them a hand. For example, aerobic exercise — including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening and dancing — has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression and can be very beneficial for those who are experiencing the holiday blues.

Here is a list of ideas to implement in order to best serve this demographic the holiday season:

  • Start a walking club. Walking is a non-intimidating exercise and is a great stress reducer. Promote the program with mental health in mind. Consider allowing members to bring a friend so they can reach out to those in their life who may be struggling.
  • Throw a party. For many suffering the holiday blues, the holiday is a stressful time due to family issues. Hosting an event at your facility can allow your members to relax and enjoy themselves with friends they have made.
  • Be mindful in your marketing. When people experience the holiday blues, they often cope by stress eating. Pushing out marketing messages focused on “Burning off the extra calories you consumed during the holidays” can have the adverse effect of getting people through your doors. Instead, consider sending out a “self-care message.”

These are just three examples of ways you can serve more people in your community who may be enduring the holiday blues this winter. Is your facility doing anything special? If so let me know at taylor@peakemedia.com.

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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