Seasonal Affective Disorder – “Holiday Depression”?
Part 4 - Too Much Stress
In the northern hemisphere, the days get shorter and the darkness seems to win towards the holiday season around November-December.
In this 6-part series I will talk about possible causes of SAD - and what we can do to help!
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
For many people that darkness extends to their emotions, and they feel gloomy, down and generally miserable. They may be experiencing depression, sleep problems, weight gain, anxiety, joint pain, irritability, stress, or headaches. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), winter depression, or “Holiday Depression”.
What are the most important causes contributing to SAD?
- Lack of sunlight
- Holiday Treats
- Lack of Nutrients
- Increased Stress from the holiday season
- Lack of Exercise
- Regrets and Worries
What Can we Do about it?
- Light Therapy
- Reduce Sugary and Junk Food (as much as possible)
- Take supplements
- Relax – Your Holidays do not need to be perfect
- Move more
- Be kind to yourself – Exterminate the ANT’s from your Brain…
Each week I will talk about one of these issues.
So today here is Cause - and Intervention # 4 addressed:
Cause # 4: Too Much Stress
You may think: But I love the holidays - how can it be stressful?
The truth is that during the holidays the stress levels actually peak for most people.
Why is that?
There are several reason for that:
Holidays means an interruption of our usual routine. We may visit friends and family, entertain, have friends and family over for a visit and on top of it all the children are out of school.
Tempers clash, small talk turns into arguments and more.
On top of it all we eat more unhealhty foods that affect our mood in a negative way. We may feel more tired and sluggish - or the opposite, wound up, nervous, antsy and cannot sleep for worries about getting it "just right"
If you are a perfectionist (so many of us are) this "having to get it all right" adds additional stress.
And then the flu season starts. We may fight off a cold or even the flu and that causes stress for our immune system and for our mind, because when we don't feel well, we have to put twice as much effort in doing all the things you feel you "should" over the holidays.
If you are one of the many people feeling lonely during the holiday times, remembering lost loved ones, not having family and friends, this is a different type of stress that can weigh you down.
Intervention # 4: Relax - Here is How
Now that sounds easier said than done. Don't we try to relax all the time? And it makes it worse?
The harder you try to relax, the more tense you feel. And when it comes time to sleep, the tasks of the next day are in your mind and keeping you awake. The best thoughts come right when you want to fall asleep, right?
What can we do? I recommend a "Brain Dump" - Download my worksheet below for free to see how to do it for maximum results!
Sure, we should be mindful as much as possible. But what's wrong with this statement?
Don't say to yourself " I should ..." That alone makes you feel guilty and your mind pushes back.
Be gentle to yourself. Don't be mean to yourself and nice to everyone else. More about this aspect in part 6.
Breathe deep and relax.
Practice the following breathing exercise to relax your body and mind.
For 3 minutes each hour take a short mental vacation.
Take 3 deep. slow breaths - if you can, through your nose - and blow it out. Repeat 3 times in 3 minutes. Don't breathe too hard and fast, or you will get dizzy. Slow and deep is best. Breathe with your belly breath.
You can engage in this exercise while you are standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or purchasing holiday gifts. You can complete the exercise at home or at work.
Take three deep breaths and relax. As you inhale, concentrate on calm and peaceful thoughts.
As you exhale, concentrate on pushing any tension out of your lungs.
Focus on positive images of the Holidays. Focus on laughter, love, excitement and hope.
Try Brendon Burchard's Release Meditation
I personally do that every time I feel stressed. It is really calming. Watch the video and do the meditation with him.
If you feel you are so stressed and overwhelmed, reach out for help. call a trusted friend or family member, a counselor, a doctor or reach out to us.
Is it really bad? Are you feeling like hurting yourself? Please go for help right now. Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.
Don't give up! There is a light at the end of the tunnel for you, too! Go to my about page and watch the video of my story, and you will get the courage to go for help.
In Part 5 of the SAD series we are talking about how lack of exercise - especially during the holiday season - can make you sad and tired.