Lisa Conway – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: How do I avoid the holiday blues?
A: “‘Tis the season to be jolly.” But for many people, the parties, festivities and family gatherings are anything but. For those individuals, strained family relationships cause anxiety, difficult past memories stir up feelings of loneliness and sadness, and there may be a keen sense of loss for loved ones no longer with us. For these reasons, it can also be the season of “holiday blues.” The National Alliance for Mental Illness defines the holiday blues as “temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays that can be associated with extra stress.” Sound familiar?
The holiday blues can descend on us for a number of reasons. Stressors may spring from an overabundance of holiday activities and parties, with decisions to be made about what to wear, what to bring, what gifts to buy for family and friends, whether to send cards –and how to get everything accomplished in a short period of time. Emotional suffering can also arise from holiday memories of happier times.
As we head into the holidays, days are getting shorter. While Florida generally remains sunny, long stretches indoors increases the risk for seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
So how can we avoid or decrease the holiday blues?
Get organized. We all function better with some structure in our lives.
Let go of the past. Life brings changes. Not everything has to be just like the “good old days.” Don’t be afraid to let some things go — in favor of something new.
Go window shopping. If money is a stressor, enjoy the retail energy without buying anything! Free concerts, parades, pageants and holiday activities abound.
Spend time around supportive people. Avoid the “Debbie Downers” who bring negativity to every exchange. If you can’t avoid them, limit your engagement.
Volunteer, donate and help others. Few things make us feel better than helping others. Volunteer at the animal shelter, be a Secret Santa, or bring your elderly neighbor a poinsettia.
Keep exercising. Stick to your exercise routine (and healthy eating) as much as possible. Enjoy a brisk walk in the cooler temps. Movement and sunlight will elevate your mood.
Drink in moderation. Alcohol may feel good in the moment, but it is a depressant and can exacerbate the blues. If festivities include drinks, limit your intake and stay hydrated with other fluids.
If you tend to suffer from the holiday blues, take proactive steps to keep your stress at bay and bolster your emotional health.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging. Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse, Certified Dementia Practitioner and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera. Ms. Conway hosts a monthly seminar, ‘Senior Health Friday with Nurse Lisa.’