Keep off the holiday blues
WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2019 - 12:00am

While joy and cheer abound during the holiday season, as much as half of the population may be affected by the holiday blues or temporary feelings of anxiety and depression during the holidays.

The stress caused by the demands of the season and social expectations may also trigger these feelings. It doesn’t help that diet, sleep and exercise patterns also shift to unhealthy during these times.

What should we do to prevent the holiday blues?

Happiness Is The Way author My Holland devoted a whole chapter of her book to the importance of exercising in the pursuit of happiness. “A landslide of research shows that getting regular exercise is among the best things we can do for our body and will up our happiness quotient. Exercise works so well to improve mood and outlook that many find it, in effect, a golden ticket to happiness,” she said.

So shove those excuses about not having the energy and the time to sweat it out. Do not wait until January when everyone else gives their new year’s resolution to adopt a healthier and active lifestyle a shot. Exercise now when you need the added energy and mood boosting the most.

Interestingly, the chapter that follows exercise in Holland’s book is that of the importance of sleep. According to Holland, there is a very strong sleep-to-happiness connection.

“Getting consistent high-quality sleep is strongly correlated to being happy and productive and feeling emotionally and mentally healthy,” Holland stated. Less than the required amount of sleep, worse several sleep-deprived nights in a row, increases stress hormones.

I just recently watched on FOX+ the 2017 movie A Bad Moms Christmas. The comedy showcased how Christmas is like the Super Bowl for moms who are expected to create single handedly a magical holiday for their families through perfectly decorated homes, well-loved gifts and bountiful feast.

What added to the holiday stress of the three moms was the burden of hosting and dealing with their visiting mothers who had their expectations on how the holidays should be spent.

The younger moms agreed to junk tradition and claim back the joy of Christmas by focusing on enjoying simple things with the family such as just watching movies in the living room with overflowing popcorn, or going to family arcade and playing together, or simply ordering food from outside to share in the dining table.

That is exactly what experts prescribe. Remember that the holidays center on family and happiness. If the demands of decorating the house, cooking and hosting parties, shopping and wrapping gifts exhaust you then step back and assess the situation.

Who are you pleasing? Whose expectations are you trying to meet or exceed? Is that what your loved ones really want or need?

Just like what they did in the movie, you can end up doing something completely untraditional and still have heaps of fun. Maintain a sense of balance. Set limitations for yourself in terms of time and money spent. Be realistic and do not fool yourself that you have super powers.

The depression that tends to manifest during the holidays results from the increased demands of the season and the perception of being unable to meet and manage the expectations.

There is too much to juggle during the last two months of the year. In the office there are books to close, targets to chase and reports to make. There are countless parties and reunions to attend. Shopping for gifts may also cause stress due to increased traffic congestion, parking problems and jam-packed malls.

The abnormal schedules we have trying to pack in as many activities and errands in a day (most of which sadly gets wasted in traffic jams) disrupts our normal diet, exercise and sleeping patterns. So the stress coping mechanisms of sufficient sleep, regular exercise and balanced diet are completely shattered by lack of sleep, lack of exercise and over indulgence.

Hence, the best way to prevent the holiday blues is to be aware of the holiday trap. It’s not like you will be the modern Scrooge who hates Christmas. You just have to focus on the meaning of the season, focus on what is important.

Prioritize showing your love and gratitude to people who love you and whom you love. Spend time and share your blessings with the elderly, the orphans, the sick and those who can not exchange gifts with you.


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