Depression & Stress
The holiday season is a time full of joy,
cheer, parties, and family gatherings. However, for
many people, it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness,
reflection on past failures, and anxiety about an uncertain
What Causes Holiday
Many factors can cause the "holiday blues":
stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization,
financial constraints, and the inability to be with
one's family and friends.
The demands of shopping, parties, family
reunions, and house guests also contribute to feelings
of tension. People who do not become depressed may develop
other stress responses, such as: headaches, excessive
drinking, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping. Even
more people experience post-holiday let down after January.
This can result from disappointments during the preceding
months compounded with the excess fatigue and stress.
Coping with Stress and Depression During
Keep expectations for the holiday season
manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself.
Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize
the important activities. Be realistic about what you
can and cannot do.
1. Do not put entire focus on just one
day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day) remember it is a season
of holiday sentiment and activities can be spread out
(time-wise) to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
2. Remember the holiday season does not
banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room
for these feelings to be present, even if the person
chooses not to express them. " Leave "yesteryear" in
the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes.
Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own
3. Don't set yourself up in comparing
today with the "good ol' days.
4. Do something for someone else. Try
volunteering some time to help others.
5. Enjoy activities that are free, such
as driving around to look at holiday decorations; going
window shopping without buying; making a snowperson
6. Be aware that excessive drinking will
only increase your feelings of depression.
7. Try something new. Celebrate the holidays
in a new way.
8. Spend time with supportive and caring
people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone
you have not heard from for awhile.
9. Save time for yourself! Recharge your
batteries! Let others share responsibility of activities.
Can Environment Be a Factor?
Recent studies show that some people suffer
from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which results
from fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter
during the winter months. Phototherapy, a treatment
involving a few hours of exposure to intense light,
is effective in relieving depressive symptoms in patients
Other studies on the benefits of phototherapy
found that exposure to early morning sunlight was effective
in relieving seasonal depression. Recent findings, however,
suggest that patients respond equally well to phototherapy
whether it is scheduled in the early afternoon. This
has practical applications for antidepressant treatment
since it allows the use of phototherapy in the workplace
as well as the home.
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