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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Banish Holiday Blues

Apr 06, 2011 03:00AM

Holiday depression can affect both men and women, young and old. Factors contributing to holiday depression include increased stress and fatigue, unrealistic expectations, too much commercialization, and the inability to be with one's family. The increased demands of shopping, parties, family reunions, and house guests may also contribute to tension and sadness during the holidays. Common stress reactions during the holidays include headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating or not eating enough, and difficulty sleeping.

A post-holiday let down, resulting from emotional disappointments during the holiday months as well as the physical reactions caused by excess fatigue and stress, may cause holiday depression to continue into the new year. Studies show a rise in emotional distress after holidays, especially Christmas, and that mental health emergencies increase during the three weeks following the holidays. Here are some things that are recommended during the holiday season that can also be implemented after the holiday season to help with depression.

Keep expectations manageable. Try to set realistic goals and pace yourself. Organize your time by making lists and prioritizing important activities. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Spread out activities to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.

Let Go of the Past. Don’t be disappointed if your holidays weren’t like they used to be. Life brings changes. Embrace the future, and don’t dwell on the fact that the "good old days" are gone.

Volunteer your time. Help others who have less than you do. Taking the focus off of yourself and putting it on others can really make you feel much better.

Avoid alcohol. Excessive drinking will only increase feelings of depression.

Spend time with supportive, caring people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you have not heard from recently.

Accept feelings of sadness. The holiday season may have stirred up sad feelings, especially if your family situation or primary relationship is not what you wanted it to be. You can try what a lot of people in recovery say everyday. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Ask for help. You do not have to do it all yourself or carry the emotional burden on your own. You can get twice as much done with the help of others and by sharing your feelings; you can off load some of the heaviness or loneliness you may be experiencing. Think of the joy you felt when you gave a gift to someone. Keep that in mind when others around you enjoy giving the gift of their support. Others may not be able to recognize your distress so you need to ask for help.

If despite your best efforts to remain upbeat after the holiday season, you find yourself feeling down for a sustained period of time, get help. Don’t try to "tough it out" alone. Depression is a real illness and there are treatment options available to you that could make a significant difference in your life.

Dr. Kevin Kilday, PhD is a certified nutritional counselor. He is a member of the American Holistic Health Association and he is the founder of Life Recovery Center specializing in spiritual and nutritional counseling for addictions, depression and anxiety. Available therapies include talk therapy, nutritional therapy, and vitamin therapy. For more information call 321-704-0602.