Are you being affected by holiday depression?
August 28, 2008 · Updated 10:36 AM
The holiday season is a happy time for most people, but can also be a time of sadness and depression. Holiday depression can be a very real problem, but also a very fixable one.
Near the top of the list of causes is the unrealistic expectations many of us place upon ourselves as well as the season. Constant exposure to media images of the ideal holiday can create fantasy goals impossible to achieve.
We may start feeling that we lack some important quality because we arent invited to all the best parties or arent having the perfect holiday we imagine others are enjoying. This comparing of ourselves to how things ought to be leaves us feeling that were constantly getting cheated for some reason.
Holiday depression can also have its roots in the changed lifestyle many of us experience during this season. Our diets may change, usually including more candy, cake and alcohol than normal.
We also often exercise less. Busy holiday schedules coupled with less daylight and colder temperatures make it harder to stick to that normal workout regimen.
Combine the mood swings that go with a high-calorie, high-sugar diet with a lack of exercise and depression can easily occur. We begin to feel more sedentary and lethargic, and perhaps guilty as a couple of extra pounds show up around our waistlines.
Fortunately, correcting the holiday blues usually isnt that difficult. Simply recognizing that the media-promoted perfect holiday images arent realistic is an important first step.
Refuse to compare yourself to that TV family or the neighbors you imagine having that rosy ideal holiday. Instead, focus on the good and positive in your own life and those things you really enjoy during this season.
Making a conscious effort to get back to a healthier diet and to increase your amount of exercise can also do a great deal to overcome holiday depression.
Lastly, dont wallow privately in your depression. Go meet with friends, not to discuss your feelings, but just to enjoy them socially. Friends and family can do a great deal to lift your mood.
But if you find that your holiday depression is not going away, despite your best efforts, try talking with a counseling professional. Serious depression is not a health problem to be ignored.
The Counseling Corner is provided as a public service by the American Counseling Association, the nations largest organization of counseling professionals. Learn more about the counseling profession at the ACA web site, www.counseling.org.