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Guide to Surviving the Holiday Blues

The holidays are meant to be a season of joy, sharing and togetherness - not depression, isolation and anxiety. Here are some tips to beat the seasonal blues.
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The holidays. A time for joy and cheer…and stress. Are you ready for all the hustle and bustle that the holiday season brings? If you’re like millions of people, you may be dreading it.

What’s got you down this holiday season? Could it be the impending bills, the rush of visitors, family conflict or the hundreds of things you need to do? There’s no doubt that stress is a big part of the holidays.

The good news is that understanding your stress and effective ways to beat it will greatly improve your mood and experience during the holiday season.

Emotional Support Beats Depression
The media has lead people to think that suicide rates rise during the holiday season. The data indicates that depression from the holiday stress causes people to take the last full measure. This is simply a myth.

Research[1] finds suicide rates decrease during the holidays. Actually, the decrease is because of the emotional support[2] available.

People who experience depression during the holidays usually suffer from this feeling throughout the winter months and have a disorder called, "seasonal affective disorder."[3] It has nothing to do with the holidays.

What can we learn from this? If you’re feeling down, surround yourself with your loved ones and forget about everything else you think you need to do. Being able to let go and just appreciate the time you have with people you love is one of the great gifts of the holiday season.

Coping with Tasty Food Depression
With all of the parties and food being passed around, diet conscious people are in constant conflict with themselves. They want to enjoy the holiday foods but they don’t want to spend hours in the gym or spend weeks in starvation because of a couple days of indulging.

It’s a nightmare having sugary, fatty food being passed right in front of your face and not being able to eat as much as you want. Depression can set in quickly and cause isolation.

To wake up from this nightmare, nutritionists[4] have some of these tips:

  • Don’t go to a party starving.
  • Eat a small amount of fat to help you eat less.
  • Don’t deprive yourself – portion control is key.
  • Avoid indulging at home so you can indulge out.
  • Exercise an hour before a party.
  • Don’t skip meals.
  • Avoid calorie filled alcoholic beverages.

Don’t Forget Your Natural Antidepressant
The Havard Medical School[5] conducted a study that found that participants who exercise consistently had longer lasting effects from exercising than taking antidepressants.

Just because you have a busy schedule with the holidays coming up doesn’t mean you should quit your exercise regimen. It’s probably the one thing that will get you through it without becoming completely stressed out and depressed – treat it like your natural antidepressant.

Financial Survival Through the Holiday Season
So what’s one of the biggest depression causing stressors of the holidays? Finances.

It’s a great time to go out and buy everyone you love something nice to show how much you appreciate them. However, as you swipe that card, the bills rack up.

You may not realize it at the moment, but subconsciously, you're adding up that money you’re spending and you’re stressed over it - especially if you are already having money problems.

“Resolve to not overspend," is the advice of the experts.  Kevin Worthley[6], a certified financial planner, says, "This not only includes presents but also ancillary expenses such decorations, home party supplies, alcohol and treats. Don’t forget extra travel expenses too.”

He further suggests to only use cash, and when the cash is used, the holiday shopping is done.

Love Yourself as You Love Others
Remember why you become anxious during the holidays each year. You want to make it a special time for everyone, right? Well, what about making it a special time for yourself as well. It’s time to change your direction a little as you’re getting ready for the holidays.

Pay attention to how you are feeling. If you are taking on too much and feel too stressed, then stop and relax. Delegate some of the tasks to someone else or do them later or another day. Consider what really needs to be done or can be eliminated. Determine what really matters and what no one will notice. Spend time loving yourself with the people you love. It’s never meant to be perfect and it never will be. Just like life, it’s just meant to be enjoyed.

Sources

1. [1]http:/.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3495908
2. [2]http:/.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=156980
3. [3]http:/.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectid=c7df954d-1372-4d20-c80ed0a7ab69d250
4. [4]http:/.netnutritionist.com/fa11.htm
5. [5]http:/.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Exercise-and-Depression-report-excerpt.htm
6. [6]http://commonfinancialadvice.com/2011/11/plan-and-budget-now-for-holiday-spending-later/

 

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