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FEELING S.A.D. DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON? YOU’LL BE O.K.

The holidays are wonderful, but there is also a great deal of stress at this time of year. Not only are people expected to eat more than they should, drink more than they should and spend more than they can really afford, but they are also expected to be joyous and merry and full of good cheer. For some people, however, the holidays are not something they look forward to.

….FULL ARTICLE

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FEELING S.A.D. DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON? YOU’LL BE O.K.

The holidays are wonderful, but there is also a great deal of stress at this time of year. Not only are people expected to eat more than they should, drink more than they should and spend more than they can really afford, but they are also expected to be joyous and merry and full of good cheer. For some people, however, the holidays are not something they look forward to.


A person who has suffered a loss around the holidays – the end of a relationship or the death of a loved one – often has a hard time tapping into the happiness that seems to permeate every store, TV show and song on the radio. Dealing with a loss becomes more difficult when the societal pressure to laugh and rejoice increases. Memories of deceased loved ones are especially poignant and wrenching when the emphasis is on gathering with friends and family for a picture- perfect holiday. People who live alone or far from family may find loneliness is exacerbated during the holidays.


If depression and anxiety are realities for you at this time of year, talk to your family physician. He or she may be able to prescribe an antidepressant that will help you keep things in a good perspective. It is also beneficial to speak with a trained counselor, who will help you recognize your feelings are genuine and should be respected. Your counselor can give you ways of coping and teach you how to

practice self-care. If someone insists that you “cheer up” and stop being a “party pooper,” it is perfectly all right for you to emphasize that your well-being is your priority.


Some people have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a very real illness often incurred by the shorter winter days. The lack of daylight makes people feel sad and hopeless. They may have little energy, lose interest in things they enjoy, have trouble concentrating and may even contemplate suicide. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. SAD can be treated by taking long walks during daylight hours or exposure to a light box for about 30 minutes a day.


To help you get through the season, you can:


Simplify. Cut back on commitments and minimize decorating and shopping. Don’t overeat and especially don’t overdrink: Alcohol worsens symptoms of depression.


Reflect. Take time to ponder the happy memories of loved ones you have lost. Honor them by sharing photos and stories.


Refuse. If you don’t feel up to going to a party or event, just say so. There’s no use wearing yourself out and making matters worse.


Be grateful. Keep a journal or a running list of things you are thankful for. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, look over the list and realize there are good things in your life.


It is all right to feel sad. It is all right to step away from the noise and hustle and bustle to maintain your inner peace. Look forward to the New Year with a resolution to enjoy a fresh start.

RALEIGH M. KINCAID, LMFT

A native of Beattyville, Kentucky, Raleigh M. Kincaid has lived in Lexington for nearly 20 years. He believes his job as a marriage and family therapist is to “help people find and act on the truth.”

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