Holidays, which are “supposed” to be happy and joyful occasions, can be challenging for many people. For those who suffer from depression, shorter days and change in weather can trigger increased depression. In addition, some people who aren’t typically depressed tend to experience seasonal depression during the winter months.
Holidays can be difficult for other reasons. Grief over losses can arise when we remember past times spent with loved ones. Expectations regarding gifts, gatherings, etc. can be high. And for those who struggle with weight and food issues, the array of rich foods available can feel overwhelming.
If depression is an issue, you may be tempted to stay under the covers and isolate. Remember, though, that the things you least want to do when you are depressed may be the most helpful. Do your best to get outside at least a little, maintain some physical activity, and connect with others. Since motivation can be low when you are depressed, please don’t wait for motivation. Do your best to take small steps and let those small steps be enough. You may be surprised to find that you feel a little better when you take these steps, as well.
Know that grief is something that commonly arises in the midst of holidays; you are not alone. I have a bumper sticker which reads, “We are all in this together,” and I truly believe this. Grief is a universal experience. Honor and express it, talk about your losses with someone you trust, and tap into your spiritual connection to help yourself integrate the loss.
Monitor expectations of yourself around the holidays and let go of trying to do them “perfectly.” If you experience pain, this is particularly important. Pick the rituals and experiences that you value most about the holidays and don’t be afraid to say no to others. And delegate, delegate, delegate: you don’t have to do it alone even if you used to. Don’t overextend financially in ways that will add stress to your life.
If you struggle with weight and food issues, do your best not to entirely let go of healthful habits like regular eating (small meals/snacks every 3-4 hours with space in between) and healthful choices and portions. If you are at a buffet, survey the whole scene before you dish up and then pick the things that you are most drawn to. And remember, if you eat more than you typically would at a holiday meal, avoid thinking that you have “blown it” and so you might as well give up and continue with this pattern. A day or two of overeating is not going to make long term changes in your weight if you get back to healthful eating patterns as soon as possible.
-Maggie Harris, LCSW
About Center for Spine, Joint and Neuromuscular Rehabilitation:
Center for Spine, Joint and Neuromuscular Rehabilitation is a comprehensive approach to the treatment of pain. We offer nonsurgical treatment for the neck, back, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and feet by Board Certified anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation and pain medicine physicians. Services include evaluation and treatment of painful conditions including medical management, diagnostic and therapeutic injections, nerve conduction studies, diagnostic imaging, physical and behavioral therapy.
Phone: (615) 872-9966 http://www.sjnmr.com Fax: (615) 872-9967
Brentwood – Hermitage – Mount Juliet – Murfreesboro – Nashville