Monday, December 15, 2008

Have a Green or White Holiday, not a Blue one!

I am one of those people who experience "holiday blues" so I thought I'd post this to let others know you aren't alone, and that there are some things you can do to help you cope with holiday stress and depression.

Though I found it on several internet sites, the article below is reprinted from MedicineNet.com because it appears to be the original. I have added a few of my own comments enclosed in brackets [ ].



Holiday Depression And Stress

The holiday season for most people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations and social gatherings with family and friends. For many people, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety.

What causes holiday blues?

Sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Typical sources of holiday sadness include:

  • stress,
  • fatigue,
  • unrealistic expectations [your own and others],
  • [feelings of guilt due to inability to accomplish unrealistic expectations]
  • over-commercialization,
  • financial stress, and
  • the inability to be with one's family and friends.
  • [holiday travel; being away from your own home if you pay an extended visit to others.]

Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension. People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses, such as:

  • headaches,
  • excessive drinking,
  • over-eating, and
  • insomnia.
  • [heartburn and indigestion – these can be independent stress responses unrelated to eating.]

Others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year's/January 1st. This can result from built-up expectations, disappointments from the previous year, coupled with stress and fatigue.

Tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:

  • [Decide – yes, CHOOSE – to have a good holiday. The power of your mind and thoughts to affect your mood and determine your course is boundless….use it to create a good holiday!]
  • [Learn to graciously but firmly say NO]
  • [Self-assess and be aware of how you are feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically.]
  • [Take a break when you need one – this is not selfish, it's survival]
  • [Do something nice just for yourself.]
  • Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  • Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  • Do not put all your energy into just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.
  • Live and enjoy the present.
  • Look to the future with optimism.
  • Don't set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.
  • If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.
  • Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations; going window shopping without buying and watching the winter weather whether it's a snowflake, or a raindrop.
  • Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people.
  • Reach out and make new friends.
  • Make time to contact a long lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
  • Make time for yourself!
  • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  • Keep track of your holiday spending. Over-spending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.

No matter what you celebrate at this time of year, have a Really Happy, Happy Holiday!

4 comments:

Geraldine said...

Perhaps there will be an upside to the current financial crisis. If it starts to make people really look at what the holidays have turned out to be for them: shopping and more shopping, cooking, cleaning,over-spending, drinking and eating to excess....and not what the magic and wonder of this season is all about, then I think there will be something good to come as a result.

I just posted about the magic of Christmas, hope you stop by soon M.

Great post as usual. So thought-provoking and excellent reminders.

Michelle said...

Hi G,

I agree. I think it has opened a lot of eyes to be sure.

My sister-in-law made a great suggestion that we are going to follow this year: we are going to show our gratitude for all the things we have by donating to our favorite charities the money we would have spent on gifts.

The donation will be made in the other person's name, i.e. I will donate in Mary's name and she in mine. The same with our husbands and adult children.

I suggested that we just make this our new tradition. We don't really need to exchange things to remember our love and connection as a family.

Geraldine said...

A wonderful new tradition! Excellent idea M.

I always loved to make handmade gifts when I had a lot of people to "buy" for. For now, Christmas is a very quiet time for me and Joe. We will probably be helping out at a homeless shelter for Christmas dinner this year. Another way to focus on the real meaning of the season.

Hugs, G

PS: Looking forward to the natural cosmetic post upcoming. The sage experiment :<) is still going well.

Michelle said...

Hi G,

I recall those days fondly. For years I either sewed or crocheted or embroidered gifts for the family. Had to start in August, but it was fun.

Thanks for the update on the sage experiment! I did find a couple of websites that had lots of info on natural cosmetics and thought I had posted on that! I'll have to go back and see what happened and where I put it!