Signs You Might Have the Holiday Blues

Photo: Getty Images/Fickr RF

Photo: Getty Images/Fickr RF

The other day I wrote about the holiday blues, and how they can start even when the weather’s hot and the leaves are on the trees.  Check out the full post here.

Today I’m going to talk about some of the signs and symptoms of the holiday blues.*

The thing about our moods is that we often don’t notice what’s happening with them.  Very few of us sit around pondering the state of our mental health:

“Hmmmm, am I happy or sad today?”

“What is the word that best describes my current psychological state?”

To carry on like that for too long would be annoying for all involved.  On the other hand, it’s because we don’t often pay much attention to our mood that changes can sneak up on us, and catch us by surprise.  Mood often changes slowly, with subtle signs and symptoms along the way.  If we pay close attention, we’ll notice the changes.  Check these out:

  • increased irritability (everyone is driving me nuts!!!!)
  • decreased motivation (it’s hard to get myself to do anything)
  • decreased pleasure (I don’t look forward to reading Us Weekly like I used to)
  • increased worry (I am stressed about everything!)
  • low mood (I just feel kind of down)

As with most things, the sooner we become aware of a problem, the easier it is to fix it.  Stay tuned for tips on how to manage the holiday blues before they get out of hand.

*Please note, “the holiday blues” is not a diagnosis recognized by the DSM-IV or ICD-10, but rather term used by this author to describe a non-clinically significant cluster of symptoms.



Elf on the Shelf: Cool or Creepy?

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Am I the last mother on Earth not to adopt Elf on the Shelf as a holiday season behavioral management tool?  I think I may be.

I don’t actually own an Elf on the Shelf, so I am no expert, but the whole idea seems a little bit creepy to me.  A doll that watches your every move, reports everything back to Santa, and can’t be touched by humans?  Am I missing something?

From my super-scientific Facebook research I notice that many of my friends and colleagues use EOTS to help their kids stay in line during holiday season.  And it looks like parents also have fun finding a place for him to move each night after the kids are in bed.  Here are some thoughts:

The psychologist (and Scrooge) in me says: This is not a good thing.  Not only is the idea of a little elf running around the house, and then flying up to the North Pole and back scary for kids (and adults, eek!), but lying to our kids and coercing them into good behavior with the threat of being exposed to Santa? – this can’t be a psychologically healthy parenting tool!  And don’t even get me started on Santa himself: what are we telling our kids anyway? Stay away from strangers all year, except this large guy whose face is obscured by all manner of facial hair.  And kids, don’t just talk to him, sit on his lap and whisper in his ear about all the material things you want but probably can’t afford and certainly don’t need. Blech.

The parent in me says: This sounds like a lot of work.  So on top of everything else this month I have to remember to move this little guy around…or else?  After asking my kids their thoughts, #1 says she thought it would be creepy, too.  She even wondered aloud how scary it would be to have something roaming around in the house while we were all asleep.  Child #2 says we NNEEEEEEDD an Elf on the Shelf because everyone else has one, and she would probably have perfect behavior if we had one too.  Doubtful.  Child #3 had no comment.

So, EOTS-practicing parents, what are your thoughts?  What am I missing?  Help me understand why this little guy has become a December staple!  Better yet, send me your best EOTS pictures and I will post them here.



Please send pictures to or post on my Facebook wall

Elf at play

Elf at play

Injured Elf

Injured Elf

Healed Elf

Healed Elf