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Halloween and Thanksgiving are behind us and holiday advertising has ramped up. Happy people, parties, festive decorations and gifts galore. So, why do you feel so depressed?
Depression occurring around the holidays is not uncommon. After all, not everyone can afford the perfect gifts, not everyone has the skill to create the perfectly decorated home, and not everyone gets along with the family members they are forced to spend time with at holiday dinners and gatherings. It is certainly enough to put anyone in a bad mood.
A bad mood isn't depression, though.
Depression, with its deep sadness, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, irritability and appetite changes, is much more than a bad mood. Depression can reduce your ability to function at work and at home. It can interrupt your sleep, increasing the fatigue that feels like a weight attached to your body. It can cause you to overeat, leading to that dreaded holiday weight gain. Most of all, it can interfere with your interactions with family and friends.
Those who currently suffer with depression are at greatest risk. If these sufferers are currently receiving either therapy or medication, they may wish to consult with their medical provider about what can be done to help them get through the season.
For those who have not been diagnosed with depression, but feel that their bad mood is getting worse, seeking professional help from a physician or therapist might be in order.
If it seems like there is pressure or a deadline to everything having to do with celebrating the holidays, you're right. Getting to the store when it opens in the middle of the night so you can be first on line to get that special gift is pretty stressful. Making sure the cards are sent, the cookies baked, the gifts bought and wrapped and the party readied, all while continuing to meet the day to day demands of work and household is daunting.
So, maybe this year is the year to do less. Let someone else host holiday dinner. Let someone else throw the party. Pare the gift list (Great-Aunt Mabel won't mind.) Give gift certificates instead of gifts. Shop online instead on standing on line.
Will the world come to an end if you don’t bake your reindeer cookies this year? What if you skipped putting up the outside lights? Maybe you could take a trip for Christmas, somewhere warm and sunny and spend your holidays relaxing instead of stressing.
The holidays are full of traditions, and we feel honor-bound to repeat them. In the end, though, are we doing that at the expense of our physical or mental health? Are we really enjoying the holidays, or merely surviving them? And why should we feel guilty about not doing what our forebears did at the holidays?
This year, let's make some new traditions. Out with the things that cause us stress and in with the things we enjoy! That could make this holiday season something we can all look forward to.
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