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Holiday Blues and Self-care

The holidays are usually a time for being with family and friends involving warmth and joy. However, psychologists have found there is a real condition called the “holiday blues.”

One survey by the American Psychological Association uncovered some interesting data about the holiday blues:

· While the majority of people in the survey reported feelings of happiness, love, and high spirits over the holidays, those emotions were often accompanied by feelings of fatigue, stress, irritability, bloating, and sadness.

· Thirty-eight percent of people surveyed said their stress level increased during the holiday season. Participants listed the top stressors: lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving, and family gatherings.

· Surprisingly, 56 percent of respondents reported they experienced the most amount of stress at work. Only 29 percent experienced greater amounts of stress at home.

Another poll of more than 1,000 adults by the Principal Financial Group — a global investment company — found that 53 percent of people experience financial stress due to holiday spending, despite the fact more than half set budgets for their holiday spending.

Sadness or depression at holiday time can be a reaction to the stresses and demands of the season. In other cases, people may feel depressed around the winter holidays due to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as seasonal depression. This is a type of depression that tends to occur (and recur) as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. It is believed that affected people react to the decreasing amounts of sunlight and the colder temperatures as the fall and winter progress, resulting in feelings of depression.

WebMD has these 19 suggestions to help cope with the holiday blues:

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. Overspending 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.

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