BY JF&CS / SPECIAL AJT //
The holiday season is supposed to be joyous. It is a period meant to be filled with an abundance of family, festivities and gifts. But those who are facing such challenges as financial struggles, battling an illness or living away from immediate family are not always able to celebrate fully.
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Other factors, like the recent loss of a loved one, can make celebrating feel wrong. The holidays also occur in the winter, which is a time when the weather is cold and gloomy. For these reasons, it is not uncommon for the holiday season to make some feel worse.
Those who are feeling sad or stressed during the holidays need to know there are things they can do to make this time of year a bit easier. One of the best things people can do to feel better is manage their expectations.
If the individual in question goes into the holiday season expecting every meal or gift exchange to be perfect, they are only setting themselves up for disappointment. They should expect some bumps in the road, while still trying to focus on the positive.
Giving to others also can go a long way when it comes to lifting the spirts. This doesn’t necessarily mean donating financially; it can mean giving time.
Something like volunteering at a shelter or baking cookies with friends can be a fun and thoughtful thing to do. It also is important for people to take care of themselves physically. They should try to eat healthfully, get lots of rest and make sure they stay physically active.
Many studies have shown that exercise can be as effective in treating depression as some medications. No matter how individuals may choose to improve their mood, it is important to stay in the company of others. Isolation can contribute to feeling sad and lonely.
For those who are dealing with grief or sadness, it will help to remember the holidays will pass, and there are always ways to get through.
If the feelings do not go away at the end of the season, or if this is something that has gone on for a long period of time, they should not hesitate to seek help. There is no shame in doing so. Depression is treatable.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling alone
- Feeling fatigued
- Feeling short-tempered
- Oversleeping (especially during the day)
- Feeling sadness
- Feeling like it’s difficult to connect with other people
- Having a heavy sense on your chest or head
- Not wanting to eat or being unable to eat
- Feeling isolated (even when around other people)
Editor’s note: For more information about help with depression, visit www.ytfl.org/counseling or call (770) 677.9474.