Merry Christmas and Happy New Year are common greetings this time of year, but the truth is, the holiday season isn’t merry and happy for everyone.
For some, the cloud following them around is fairly mild and temporary.
Unrealistic expectations around what the holiday season should be, financial pressures or anxiety connected with gift giving, along with stress and anxiety brought on by excessive commitments can make anyone fell less than jolly.
Excessive drinking, overeating and lack of sleep don’t help.
Some ABCs for getting over a temporary frump:
A — Acknowledge your honest emotions with someone trustworthy
B — Become active by doing a good deed for a friend or community service
C — Celebrate the positives: what you have, how far you’ve come
Social Isolation is one of the biggest predictors of depression, especially during the holidays, according to www.healthline.com. For people who don’t have a circle of friends or family available, holiday time can seem very bleak.
The loss of a loved one is especially painful during a season of friends and family. The empty chair at the table, the hole in the family picture are somehow harder to bear.
Some good ideas to tackle difficult emotions directly could include beginning a new tradition with a family outing or a vacation instead of spending the holidays at home. Volunteering feels good on several levels and can make it easier to see that one’s own life is blessed, as many others have so little. Getting outdoors — dressed for the cold, of course, is a suggestion that comes from multiple medical sources.
Healthline.com says going for a walk helps many people relax and feel better when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Regular exposure to light is an important step in preventing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If outside sunlight isn’t an option, it’s possible to get phototherapy commercially. The light required must be bright — about 25 times as bright as normal living room light, according to www.medicinenet.
CNN and Psychology Today offered additional advice, including: skip Facebook, hit the gym, keep active — especially with outdoor activities, stay on your own side — be wary of self-critical thoughts. Take a kind attitude and be supportive of yourself as you would a friend. Get to know your patterns.
Reducing the stress of holidays can help. Suggestions from www.medicinenet.com include:
• Limit commitments and outside activities
• Make arrangements to spread some of the holiday work, like gift shopping and meal preparation around among more family members
• Agree on financial limits for purchases
• Get some extra rest
• Get group support from friends, your church or social group
• Counseling with a professional or even a trusted friend can help you sort out feelings and emotions
However, for a significant percentage of people with more serious depression, actions such as these are not enough. According to UC Davis Health, comparing holiday blues to depressive disorder is like comparing a common cold to pneumonia.
Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder (persistent depressive disorder) and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA).
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call SAMHSA at (800) 662-HELP. For more information about keeping your mind healthy, log on to samhsa.gov.
Local help is available too.
• Winnemucca’s Family Support Center at 623-1888
• Winnemucca Mental Health at 623-6580
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
• or call Humboldt County Dispatch for help — 623-6249