Stress/Depression and the Holidays
Although the holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy, good cheer and
optimistic hopes for a new year, many people experience seasonal "blues." What's
important to know is that there are steps you can take to help beat the blues
this holiday season.
The "holiday blues" can be caused by many factors: increased stress and fatigue,
unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization and the inability to be with
one's family. The increased demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and
house guests also contribute to these feelings of tension. Even people who do
not become depressed can develop other stress reactions during the holidays,
such as headaches, excessive drinking, overeating and difficulty sleeping.
Although many people become depressed during the holiday season, even more
respond to the excessive stress and anxiety once the holidays have passed. This
post-holiday letdown can be the result of emotional disappointments experienced
during the preceding months, as well as the physical reactions caused by excess
fatigue and stress.
There are several ways to identify potential sources of holiday depression that
can help you head off the blues:
*Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable by not trying to make the
holiday "the best ever."
*Set realistic goals for yourself.
*Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the most important activities.
*Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
*Remember that the holiday season does not automatically banish reasons for
feeling sad or lonely. There is room for these feelings to be present, even if
you choose not to express them.
*Let go of the past. Don't be disappointed if your holidays are not like they
used to be. Life brings changes. Each holiday season is different and can be
enjoyed in its own way. Don't set yourself up for sadness by thinking everything
has to be just like the "good old days." Look toward the future.
*Do something for someone else. It is an old remedy, but it can help. Try
volunteering some time to help others.
*Enjoy holiday activities that are free, such as driving around to look at
holiday decorations. Go window shopping without buying anything.
*Don't drink too much. Excessive drinking will only make you more depressed.
*Don't be afraid to try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a way you have
not done before.
*Spend time with people who are supportive and who care about you.
*Reach out to make new friends if you are alone during special times.
*Contact someone with whom you have lost touch.
*Find time for yourself. Don't spend all of your time providing activities for
your family and friends.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS. L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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