Reinhard: Tips for avoiding the post-Christmas blues

Older adults are especially susceptible

Older adults are especially susceptible to the holiday blues.

Holiday depression and seasonal stress can override a jolly family celebration. What used to be a joyous occasion can change as life has thrown us curve balls.

Leslie Dunham, LCSW, a social worker at the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore, Md., says “even as a caregiver, you can be affected by adopting your loved one’s melancholy feelings or anxiety”.

Durham explains “one the biggest challenges for families is losing a loved one, whether it happened 10 months ago or 10 years ago. Grief can bring on intense feelings of loneliness and emptiness. It can also be stressful when family and friends don’t mention our loved one’s name to avoid upsetting you.

There are different ways of honouring your dearly departed loved one.

Place the person’s picture in a prominence place in the home or light a memorial candle. Set aside time so that everyone can share a memory or funny story about the deceased. Remember that every person grieves in a different way. Some people grieve for weeks, and others mourn for years.

Pressure from family to continue holiday celebrations the same way they were can cause stress.

Why not start a new tradition? There is no time like the present to make a change. Your life has simply changed.

Accept help when others offer. A potluck meal is always good. People love to bring things. Prioritize and downsize. If you are the hosts, make two or three dishes instead of six or seven.

Finances are an incredible source of stress.

Money is often already tight for seniors. Keep in mind to set a budget next year. Tell your family that small gifts are just as thoughtful as expensive ones. Give your baking, antipasto or crafts. Many blended families draw names for gift giving, especially when the family grows larger.

The holidays are an important time for self-care.

Keep a regular schedule. Holiday gatherings seem to be on the increase, choose only the ones you want to go to. Make exercise a priority – it will give you more energy.

Festivities usually run through the Christmas week an into the New Year, so avoid overeating, it will help you feel less lethargic and improve digestion. Save indulging for the special family dinner. Be careful about how much alcohol you drink.

Be thankful for what you had, what you have now and what the future will hold. Accept the fact that holidays are not the same as they once were and enjoy creating new memories for the future.

Karla Reinhard lives in Qualicum Beach, where she explores seniors’ issues and personalities in the area. For story tips or questions, she can be reached at

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