Holiday Blues

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Happy holidays! A time for fun, family, celebration, parties, gifts, food and drink. But not everyone finds the holidays to be the fun and excitement they “should” be. It can be stressful time that may even lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.

There are a number of factors that may lead to Holiday Blues. Financial limitations resulting from a job loss, family additions or just increased cost of everything become stressful. You may be experiencing an unexpected health problem or it is the first holiday without a loved one. Stores are overcrowded and you can’t find what you want to buy. You might have moved into a new area and have no support system yet. Sad/hurtful memories of past holidays just won’t let go. It may be a time of trying to stay sober or eat healthy food when there are parties and drinking all around you. Aren’t holidays supposed to be fun?

How do you know if you are suffering from the holiday blues? Symptoms might include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, tearfulness, irritability or explosiveness. You may be having trouble sleeping or become withdrawn. An increased/decreased appetite isn’t unusual. There just isn’t any joy in the season. There may be unusual physical issues such as stomach upset, bowel problems, stiff muscles, ringing in the ears and dizziness or heart palpitations.

So if this sounds like you , what can you do about it? Try to get plenty of sleep. Go for a walk or work out at the gym. Try to eat nutritious but small meals and snacks. Take a time out for yourself. It’s amazing what a hot bath or some quiet time away from all the noise will do for you. Learn Yoga or Tai Chi. Laugh! Watch a funny movie or your favorite comedian. Laughter is a free and beneficial “Medicine.” Call a friend or take a child who lives away from family out to lunch. Volunteer at the soup kitchen or SPCA or visit an elderly person in a nursing home. Buy yourself a Christmas gift…it doesn’t have to be expensive. Wrap it up and put it under the tree so you can open it on Christmas day.

If you know someone else who is struggling with Holiday Blues, you can help them get through the holidays, too. Let the person know you are concerned. Give that person a break, maybe from cooking, cleaning, work or the kids. Just listen. Play a game or do a puzzle together. Just getting that person out for a little while could make a big difference to them.

Holidays can be very stressful for a variety of reasons. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, call your doctor or a counselor. Family Service of the Chautauqua Region is available with counselors to help you get through this time of year, and can be reached at 488-1971. You aren’t alone. Remember, this is the best holiday to start a new tradition or create a new memory for holidays to come.

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