Beat the Holiday Blues

Are you burning the candle at both ends?

It is that time of year again, the hectic holidays.

Unfortunately, for some, even though the decorations are up and festive music is playing, they just feel miserable.

You are not alone. Holiday depression affects many individuals every single year.

“Depression during the holidays is often the result of dealing with holiday stress, painful memories from years gone past, previous losses and poor eating habits which can affect your mood," according to Diane E. Smith, M.A., LMFT, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Southbury.

Lucrecia Fino, a former Danbury resident who now lives in Seymour said “the holidays are a painful reminder now that my father is gone and the rest of my family is far away. I just try to make the best of it for myself and my son, Andrew.”

In a nationwide survey done by Sleepbetter.org, one in five Americans - 20 percent - said they expect to lose sleep over the coming weeks due to holiday stress.  Two in five parents - 42 percent - said they are stressing over holiday bills this year.

There are steps you can take to avoid stress and get in the holiday spirit. 

Here are 5 Ways to Cope:

1. Set aside “Me time.”  It may sound selfish, but you need to do it. Get a massage, get your hair done, read a book or a magazine, watch a hilarious movie, meet a friend for coffee or hit the gym. “Aerobic exercise is a very effective for depression, according to Deepak Chopra, M.D., “It's been shown that moderate aerobic exercise done just 30 minutes a day, three times a week, can reduce or eliminate symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression and can help with severe depression.” Taking the time to maintain an exercise routine may even help you to avoid holiday weight gain. 

2. Eat smart. Drink Less.  Understandably, if you eat a lot of junk and don't get sleep because your schedule is packed, your body will wear down.  It does not have the energy and the strength to cope, according to WebMD. "Eating a normal, healthy diet, with a few exceptions for favorite treats, and you will have more stamina for enjoying celebrations," suggested Smith. More parties mean more eating and drinking. But festive drinking can backfire. “Liquor is a depressant, especially hard liquor, which can deepen existing emotional problems,” Smith said.


3. Reach out to family and friends for support.  Although family and friends can add to your stress at this time of year, statistics reveal, Smith said, that those with plenty of family and friends around them feel better during these difficult and potentially dark times. "This time of year can bring up past losses as well," Smith said. "Sometimes a ritual will help such as a lighting a special candle in memory of a person or visiting a gravesite. Also, volunteer your time at a shelter or sign up to do some charity work. It will keep you focused on what is really important."


4. Just say “No.” Overbooking and overcommitting yourself is a definite way to end up being depressed, as reported by experts. Saying “no” to people, obligations and events, although hard, will save you from unwanted stress. Try to prioritize your commitments and accept only the invitations that you can deal with or actually want to take part in.


5. Try deep breathing exercises.  Slow, even, abdominal deep breathing relaxes your mind and body. Yoga has been shown to lessen stress and anxiety and promote feelings of well-being. "The practice of yoga posture called hatha yoga, calms the mind by centering our full attention on relaxing the body and breathing correctly", said Janaki Pierson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Woodbury Yoga Center. "Meditating, as well, once or twice a day, promotes a sense of calm and profound peace." 

How do you stay in the holiday spirit and deal with stress? Let us know how you cope!

Bonnie LaLiberte December 13, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Thank you Kathy Mygan. We need your prayers. To Kathy Johnson.........I pray that your family will feel relief as your mother-in-law is laid to rest. Going 'home' at this time of the year is special.......she will be received by the Savior that we celebrate this holiday for. May she rest in the arms of Jesus as the rest of celebrate the anniversary of his blessed birth.
kathy johnson December 13, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Kathy M and Bonnie, thank you and God bless.
Bonnie LaLiberte December 14, 2011 at 01:32 AM
Mom passed away this evening. We are grateful for her love and her life.
Bonnie LaLiberte December 14, 2011 at 01:48 AM
I have put up our tree and added the lights. There is a star at the top. No ornaments this time, just light. Our Christmas will be joyeous now. Mom is at peace and with her family. We are at peace knowing that she is safe and no longer ill. Merry Christmas to all of our friends on the Patch.
Kathy Mygan December 14, 2011 at 01:56 AM
Bonnie, I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. She has gone to a better place and is now at peace, I am sure. Take care.


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