Wellness Wednesday: Beating the Winter Blues

The holidays are not merry and bright for everyone.

iStock_000048254336_LargeMaking time for social events; doing the cooking, the shopping and the entertaining and all while doing our best to care for ourselves and our families, the holidays are a busy time for many people.

While the holiday season can be a lighthearted time full of joy and good cheer, the hustle and bustle, and the stress that comes along with it, can lead to anxiety, loneliness and regret for some.

As we go through this season, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to care for yourself, and your loved ones, by reminding you of the importance of preventive care, including embracing a healthy spirit.

Mental Health America offers the following tips on how to help make the season brighter:

  • Be realistic about what you can do. Don’t put the focus of the entire holiday season on just one day. Activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
  • Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed and celebrated in its own way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
  • Try volunteering some of your time to help others.
  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping or making a snowman with children.
  • Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while.
  • Save time for yourself and recharge your batteries! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities.

Recognize when it’s more than just ‘the blues’

sad_man1As the days get shorter, with longer, colder nights, many people find themselves feeling sad. They tend to suffer from symptoms of depression during the winter months, with symptoms subsiding during the spring and summer months. For many, it’s simply a normal response to less sunlight, but for others, it can be a clinical form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression and related to seasonal variations of light. SAD affects half a million people every winter between September and April, peaking in December, January and February.  Some people respond well to light therapy, while others also need an anti-depressant.

If you are experiencing feelings of sadness or despair, have changes in your sleep patterns or appetite, lack of concentration and interest, you could be suffering from a major depressive episode and you should seek immediate professional help for a diagnosis and treatment.

To find a Mercy Health System physician, go to www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.


More Information:

Seasonal Depression (MHA)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (NIH)

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