Holiday 2017 |

Christian Brothers Services
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Fighting SAD and the
Holiday Blues This Season

Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly call SAD, is a cyclical disorder causing depressive periods during the fall and winter seasons, followed by non-depressed periods during spring and summer. Symptoms of SAD include sleeping more than usual, having less energy, losing interest in activities, an inability to focus and think clearly and an increased appetite.  People with SAD actually suffer from clinical depression that is a result of their personal biology – it’s just the way their body works. The holiday blues is strictly situational; it comes from sadness or depression during the holiday season.  With depression rates already at an all-time high during the holidays due to high expectations, money woes, family dysfunction and other holiday hazards, those already suffering with SAD could feel even more helpless. 

Maximize your exposure to daylight

Make your house brighter—trim the bushes around your windows and keep your blinds and curtains open during the day. Use bright colors on walls and light-colored upholstery. Get up early to take advantage of as much daylight as possible. If possible, sit near a window at work.

Engage in activities that you enjoy

Take some time off in the winter, instead of using all of your vacation time during the summer. Volunteer or participate in activities that make you happy. Spend time with friends and family members who are caring, supportive and positive.

Practice healthy habits

Exercise, get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, and reduce stress. Spend time outdoors if possible—skiing is an excellent way to get a lot of light and exercise in the winter. Practice good sleep hygiene and make time to relax. Eat healthy foods for more energy and limit caffeine.

Consider light therapy

There are several devices available—from battery-powered visors, portable light boxes and special light bulbs, to dawn simulators (lamps that switch on before dawn and gradually light your room, like the sun rising)—but be cautious and talk to your health care provider before trying light therapy.

During the holiday season, when stress and emotions are at their peak, holiday blues can put a damper on your festivity and cheer.  According to the Mayo Clinic, it's hard to stop and regroup with all that is going on, from the commercialism of the holidays to the never-ending parties and family obligations. These events can come with higher levels of stress causing the holidays to take an emotional toll on you.  Try the following tips to fight the holiday blues:

1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.

2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

3. Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.

4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

7. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity.

8. Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.