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  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, MSN

Seasonal Depression

Although fun for many, the holiday season can present significant challenges for some individuals. Seasonal depression is a widespread issue throughout our population. It effects some individuals only around the winter holidays while others begin to experience symptoms in the fall and have them continue throughout the winter months.

Some contributing factors include: High or unrealistic expectations for the holidays season, for themselves or others, the change of weather or prolonged inclement weather with decreased access to the outside or outings, the loss of past family members and resulting changes in family traditions, financial stress, and a hectic or over committed schedule that induces stress, anxiety, or pressure. As the winter holidays approach, some people feel anxious or depressed due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression.

So how can one get past the holidays or help to break the pattern for a loved one?

1. Set a realistic pace! Do not become over committed or take on additional holiday responsibilities. After the holiday season ends try to avoid being overwhelmed by attempting to keep your calendar open in the early weeks of January to allow for a graceful transition into the new year! Be true to yourself and allow things to unfold in the best possible way for you! You set the pace and tone always! Show compassion for yourself not just others!

2. Take care of your health and body! Eat well and exercise daily. Allow yourself to enjoy the holiday season and all that it offers, but ensure that you do not over indulge and cause yourself feelings of regret or frustration in the new year! You may also want to treat yourself to something special: a new outfit, spa day, haircut, nail appointment , etc as we seem to feel better when we look better and treat ourselves to something fun or new! If funds are tight do something little for yourself within your budget; even something small can brighten ones day!

3. Adjust your surroundings! Often times the early darkness or cloudiness of winter can cause depression or sadness. Brighten up your indoor environment! You can use music to enhance the mood and scented flameless candles to not only visually enhance things, but to also serve as aromatherapy which can make a positive impact on your spirits!

4. Plan some fun outings to get out of the rut if in one! Try something that you have always wanted to do! Connect with others on your terms!

5. Be giving! Think of a way that you would like to give back during the holidays by participating in the adopt a family program or by simply doing a little decluttering and donating to a local charity. It is amazing how your spirits can be lifted by helping others! And decluttering can also help to enhance ones mood too!

6. Appreciate the simple joys! Weather and health permitting take a walk outside or even in the city. Enjoy the trees, nature, or even the holiday decor / lights in your local town. Being out and about often times lifts the spirits!

7. Express your thoughts and emotions to someone you trust. Having the opportunity to talk about how you are feeling routinely can truly be beneficial and healthy!

If you or your loved one experiences seasonal depression that cannot be worked past easily, seek guidance and support from your physician or care manager. Please feel free to reach out via my contacts tab!!! I am here to help as a mental health professional!

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