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  • Holiday Blues

    Holiday Blues

    The holidays are typically viewed as the season for joy and happiness, but that is not always the case for everyone. For some, the holidays bring sadness, loneliness, and depression. Though less serious than clinical depression, and not an officially recognized diagnosis, the holiday blues are a real phenomenon that affects people from November through the New Year.

    The holidays can exacerbate already anxious and stressful feelings, especially as we are all dealing with a global pandemic. If not addressed, these temporary feelings can develop into mental health disorders later in the year, expanding outside of the holiday season and into a clinical diagnosis.

    According to the numbers, 40% of adults suffer from anxiety around the holidays. And although this time of year is known for all the delicious treats and adult-beverage-fueled holiday parties, eating poorly and drinking excessively can worsen issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

    What can you do if you or a loved one is feeling down around the holidays?

    1. Avoid excess alcohol
      1. Alcohol is a depressant and can increase the number of negative feelings you may have. You don’t have to cut it out completely, but instead me more mindful about how much you are consuming and limit yourself to one or two drinks./span>
    2. Social distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation
      1. Because sadness often makes you want to be by yourself, a major risk factor for depression is social isolation. If you are feeling lonely, reach out for support. This can be trickier this year as we try to social distance ourselves for the health of our loved ones. If you cannot spend time with your family in-person this holiday season, try to find other ways you can enjoy social interaction. Whether that is a small get together with fewer family members or friends than normal, or connecting with everyone via Zoom, connecting with the people close to you can exponentially help your morale.
    3. Exercise regularly
      1. When feeling down, exercise is usually one of the last things on your mind. However, research has shown how regular physical activity can play an important role in preventing and reducing symptoms of depression. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that just one hour of physical activity each week was enough to prevent some future cases of depression. Try doubling down by going for a walk while catching up with a friend to cross two of these helpful suggestions off at once.
    4. Know your limits
      1. Christmas shopping, holiday parties, and working extra hours so a co-worker can take time off adds up. You are allowed to say no if the list of obligations in front of you brings you more anxiety than joy. Try not to spread yourself too thin and make sure to take time out during this busy season for yourself to recharge.

      Pay attention to the things that contribute to the stress and anxiety you feel during this time of year so you can better manage and get ahead of them moving forward to avoid the blues. If the holiday blues start taking a turn into something more serious, or the feelings continue past the holiday season and start to affect your daily routine, you might have a more serious condition and should seek expert help.

      If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

      If you would like to speak to someone about better managing your stress and anxiety, or to make an appointment, please call (717) 782-6493 for more information.



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