But with all this merriment, the Holiday Season is when the highest rate of suicides occur, and depression is at its worst for many people. The physical and mental stress at this time of year sends some people into a frenzy and others into a fit of despair. These feelings are the result of stress and anxiety brought on by many reasons. Good physical health is important. It helps us with our mental wellbeing and health; but during the Holidays many Americans abuse themselves with overeating and indulgence in other areas including alcohol, caffeine, and exotic foods. On About.com a good overview of how to take care of your health during the Holidays by Cathleen Fenton is available. It talks about how to cope with stress and panic disorder. Medical News Today online even has a name for this called SAD--Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it can be destructive to our work and personal life.
Cathleen says that we can overcome depression by preparing in advance. Don't worry about going to all the parties; just pick a select number of events to attend and try not to "do it all." Feel confident in the decisions you make. Realize that all the activities during the Holidays are designed to give you options, not send you into a tailspin of worry and doubt. Also, remember that during this Season that although you may experience a sense of grief and loss (this can be anything related to death of a close friend or family member, or conflict that happened during the year), you can cope with the loss by reaching out to others who have experienced similar situations. The sense of loneliness often attributed to loss can be overcome by focusing on what really matters to you and not what others perceive as important.
Another reason many individuals have such difficulty during the Holidays is lack of sleep. Going without this important health regimen is a very good way to become fatigued and depressed. Less sleep has been proven by many scientific studies to lead to anxiety and an agitated emotional and mental state. Without adequate amounts of rest, the body is incapable of maintaining both physical strength and mental stability. With all the parties, meetings, events, and other activities that we feel we should attend, our bodies and brains start to wear out quickly if we don't take time out to rest and replenish our personal health bank. It's okay to be tired, but just don't over do it. Take time out when you feel stretched too far, and stop before you reach a point of exhaustion. Learn to recognize the symptoms of fatigue, and slow down to avoid that physical deprivation. Stress related to lack of sleep can cause insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches, and more. Also, statistics prove that more heart attacks occur in December and January than any other time of the year--many brought on by Holiday stress.
Finally, let's remember the Reason for the Season. This time of year is meant to be festive. Enjoy it. This time of year is meant to be reflective. Remember the good times past. This time of year is meant to be loving. Care for those around you whether you know them or not. This time of year is meant for giving. Give to those who are in need, and offer gifts to those who are not. This time of year is meant for looking ahead. Focus on the best opportunities for the year ahead. Stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit. To quote a friend, Lee Truax, who is an insurance executive and also involved in prison ministry reaching out to inmates:
"It is not the lights. It is not the presents. It is not the music. It IS about the coming of the Savior to earth to reach all mankind in the form of a baby in Bethlehem."
Best wishes during the Holiday Season. Until next time.