Imagine this, cold air seeped through as you walked along a busy road. Bells ringing, children laughing, and people caroling, you heard it all, enough to know the Yuletide is nigh. You see people lined up as they set foot on the church’s door, everyone seems to be engrossed by completing their Simbang Gabi- carrying the old-time tradition of every Filipino during this Christmas time.
And yet, everybody has their special someone to share this moment, and you… don’t… How would you feel? This month of December is supposed to be a resting season and instead, the celebration during the holidays becomes an ultimate stressor.
Worry not as it is normal to be struck by the Christmas Blues (as it is commonly referred to). It is not a shade of blue, but an emotion; a feeling of self-contempt, and self-hatred that specifically occurs during the holidays, “a sorrow beyond what is given”. While the phenomenon is culturally associated with seasonal depression, the National Alliance on Medical Illness (NAMI) defines Christmas Blues differently from a mental condition, although this feeling worsens the experience of those who already have a mental illness.
Though its legitimacy is still debatable, Christmas Blues have been scientifically tied to Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD, as it is commonly known, is described as a recurring major depression with a seasonal pattern - in our case, it occurs during the high holidays of the Christmas season, affecting 1 out of 10 of the population. While SAD is mostly common in countries with changing seasons, SAD in Filipinos occurs during the Yuletides.
The cause of SAD remains unclear, however, it is debated to be the lack of exposure to sunlight as its main trigger– in the case of the Philippines, during the rainy seasons (November, December, and January). During these months, we receive less and less sunlight due to the rotation of the Earth and this disrupts the chemical reaction of our body. Since Vitamin D that we receive is mainly derived from sunlight, the lack thereof means that our serotonin (a hormone that regulates our mood) production is disrupted. Additionally, it affects our energy and causes us to be drowsy, feel more tired, and asleep during the Christmas holidays.
So how can you manage this season? The holidays are also the time for friends and family, try to reach out and spend time with them. Share your feelings of both joy and sadness, your family will be there for you no matter what. Try also to go outside, you can walk, do your chores, and spend the day outside - it is important to receive natural light as much as possible and help in synthesizing the serotonin levels in our body. Stay active and still try to have a good spirit during this season of Christmas. Lastly, try to enjoy the holidays, learn new things, and do your routine of self-help to try and cope with these holidays.
To those who fell victim to SAD and Christmas Blues, how do you cope? Hopefully, just like every season, this too shall pass.
Note: For more information on SAD or if you feel like you’re struggling with this phenomenon, consult your doctor. Visit https://doh.gov.ph/NCMH-Crisis-Hotline for more information on how to get help.