Has this year been an emotional roller coaster for you? Bad relationship ended? Stressful job? Drama-filled life? Feeling lonely? As we stroll through the holiday season, for every person who’s a holiday lover, there’s one who dreads the holiday season.
Fall is a marked reminder that summer has ended and is the gateway to “Holiday Blues;” which is related to psychosocial factors such as financial position, increased family responsibilities, loneliness, decreased activity, expectations that one “should” feel and do good, and possible unresolved conflicts with family and relationships.
A more serious depressive disorder seen in some who suffer the “Holiday Blues;” is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or simply put SAD which is bought on by a lack of sunlight, and causes depression as the days get shorter, colder and oddly enough marked with more routine. SAD is estimated to affect36 million Americans, which is about 5% of the population and 80% of the affected population is women, mostly in their 20’s to 40’s.
SAD is also related loosely to a not so clinical problem called “Winter Holiday Affective Disorder” (WHAD) which,is like SAD but with less severity in symptoms and duration. Those who suffer from SAD show signs of: increase or decrease in sleepiness, increase or decrease in appetite, decreased sex drive and energy, anxiety, diminished concentration, headaches and even hormonal fluctuation, which are related to attitudinal changes. The theory that decreased sunlight during fall and winter leads to diminished production of serotonin in the brain; a neurotransmitter that has a calming, soothing effect could be the trigger for SAD.
The following are my Ten Tips to Fighting the Holiday Blues:
1. Socialize- Alienation is “holiday blues” best friend. Don’t make it your friend. Get out and enjoy life. Spend time with people you enjoy and doing things you don’t normally do.
2. Dispose Garbage- Simply remove and eliminate all toxicity. That includes toxic friends, relationships and situations. If it’s truly not your problem or you can’t do anything to fix someone else’s problem than let go of the worry and aggravation.
3. Free – While you free yourself of toxicity – look for free things to do with your time in these hard economic times. No matter where you live there’s always something free going on. If it’s simply browsing and looking at the beautiful holiday displays or attending the church holiday play -the operative word is free. Make it a family adventure to see who can hunt for the most free activities.
4. Plan - Nothing offers hope better than a plan. When you’re feeling down, dream like a child, hope like an adult and execute like a winner. Every aspect of life involves a plan. If it’s thinking about what to eat or where you want to be in five years, it all involves planning. Begin to journal your vision and detail your steps. This exercise will help you focus on you and your journey through life.
5. Self-Preserve - You can do little for anyone if you don’t take care of self. Remember taking care of self is different from selfishness! Stress over nothing that doesn’t involve life or death. Schedule your mental and physical exam, exercise often and eat a balanced diet. Also charity starts at home. Therefore for every dollar you spend on someone else save two for the preservation of your future. If you can’t save two dollars than you don’t have one dollar for gifts. It’s time to re-gift, create and offer blessing. Those who love you will understand.
6. No Over-Consumption – Nothing feels better than eating and drinking our way to happiness. This approach is also the fastest way to depression. Alcohol is a depressant and over-consumption can lead to abuse, illness and sink you further into a state of holiday blues. Eating excessively leads to weight gain, poor health and fatigue and can make your holiday blues turn into life blues, if you don’t exercise self-control.
7. Laugh- Nothing relieves holiday blues like a simple smile or a good stomach aching laugh. Take in a comedy show, watch comedy on TV or just come to the family function with a few jokes (excluding jokes about family and friends-we want laughing not fighting). Don’t take yourself so seriously; all things come to pass in one way or the other. Thus, if we don’t laugh we will surely cry.
8. Adventure – If you’ve been thinking of swimming, hiking, belly dance, bungee jumping, pole dance, kick boxing, or any activity you dared you would never do – try it while you’re feeling blue. What a blues lifting experience than to indulge, concentrate and focus on an activity that you never felt the courage to do? Who has time to think about the blues when you are busy thinking about – safety while you have fun with your new adventure.
9. Relationships – The power of an intimate, loving, positive emotionally charged, self-fulfilling relationship is extraordinary and can do wonders for lifting holiday blues. Economic struggle, family strife and even grief can be managed when you feel love and desire in your personal life. On the other hand nothing makes the holiday blues feel like holiday nightmares than a stressful, unfulfilled, loveless and sexless relationship. Use the holiday to reflect on your relationship and make hard decisions about the feasibility of remaining in a situation that lacks joy and makes you blue. Yes, it easier said than done. The demands of children, economics and fear of loneliness can force you to suppress thinking about this aspect of your life. However, the lack of planning can cost you more in the end. Also if you can rid yourself now of the problem that’s one less gift to worry about!
10. Seek Help – If your holiday blues last more than two weeks, seek professional advice. Signs that holiday blues have found a way into your day to day functions and made its way straight to the gate of depression are: sleeplessness or sleeping too much, a lack of appetite, inability to concentrate and feeling hopeless.
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