Post-Holiday Blues

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As a young girl, the day I was MOST excited about and waited for all year long was not my birthday…it was the day Santa arrived—Christmas Day!  I can remember almost every Christmas Eve staying awake until 3 or 4am until one of my uncles would come in the bedroom where all my cousins and I were “sleeping” and tell us Santa wouldn’t come until we fell asleep.  The next day, my favorite day of the entire year, was filled with new dolls, play make-up, pumpkin pie, playing Nintendo with my dad and uncles, sitting on Gramps’ lap eating chocolate from my stocking…in two words—FAMILY and FUN!

In stark contrast, the very next day December 26th was truly the saddest and worst day of my young life—crying as I said goodbye to my Nana, sitting in a car for hours, missing the laughter of all my cousins and relatives, getting tired of all my new toys, realizing that I wouldn’t get another Christmas until a whole YEAR from now…

Interestingly enough, now as a 29 year-old I still experience a painful slump after the holiday season.  Christmas and all of its frantic preparation, warmth and family, good food, and selfless giving is over.  New Years’ with its excitement and hopeful goal-setting is gone.  Even the BCS National Championship is done 😉  January and February tend to be somewhat low times for me.  Loneliness, fatigue, lack of interest in activities, anxiety about this year—all of these things and others accompany me as I forge into 2011.

In fact, I am not alone in experiencing a miniature “depression” in the winter months.  There is actually a name for this: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD—doesn’t that fit?!).  Oftentimes people get into a funk in the fall/winter months; they may feel moody and irritable or lose interest in people/activities.  Some of this depression is actually caused by being in less sunlight because of the winter months.  Here are some other symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes; weight gain

If you notice yourself experiencing any of these things, here are some very simple ideas about how to deal with this “funk”:

  • Expose yourself to LIGHT—get outside, take short walks, turn on the lights in your house
  • Make SMALL GOALS—go run 1 errand today, call 1 friend, wake up at a reasonable hour, etc.
  • Get SUPPORT—friends and family are so helpful
  • EXERCISE—this chemically changes your body so that you actually feel more energetic and happy
  • Call for PROFESSIONAL HELP (counselor, doctor, etc.)—if your symptoms still persist and feel overwhelming, counseling and/or medications are very helpful!

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195

Kim Gregson, MS, LMFT

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