“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”
Is it? Really? For those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I beg to differ. To people with S.A.D., it is actually the most horrible time of the year. The holiday season stretches even most normal people to their max, so how much more so is that true for someone with S.A.D. I happen to think that I would be much happier and more into celebrating the holidays if they fell during the summer.
But even though many people may feel like the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year during the actual time, the post-holiday season brings a serious downfall. Due to the intense activity, elated feelings, and extra artificial light at night that occur during the holidays, the time after the holidays often brings depression to about 25% of the population. My own personal thinking is that this is the time that the winter blues really sets in for many people, without anything else to temporarily distract them or prop them up. I question how many people really feel that the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but rather use the time as an opportunity to make themselves temporarily feel better.
For someone like myself who suffers from S.A.D., the expectations caused by the holidays only exacerbate the problem– it becomes difficult to keep up with the extra work, expense, and increased interaction with others. I often feel like all of it is a charade, and I wonder why we all insist on buying into it. This is very much in contrast to my previous enthusiasm for the holidays.
Recently on my main blog, I discussed some of the ways that I personally am getting through this holiday season, and much of it involves making things more simple.
In a season of overdrive and excess, surviving in spite of Seasonal Affective Disorder must be contemplated carefully. Here are some of my tips to make it through the holidays with your sanity in tact:
- Just because you did it before does not mean that you need to do it again this year. Different years your S.A.D. may be affecting you differently, so feel free to go with the flow, and make changes as needed, even if it means doing less.
- Delegate and ask for help. My tree is not up, because no one has offered to help, and I did not feel like asking. However, if someone wants to help, I may feel more inclined to put it up. Don’t be afraid to rely on others for help during this rough time of the year.
- Get rid of the unnecessary. If something does not really mean anything to you or make you feel better, get rid of it. If it is a drudgery, let it go by the wayside, and save your energy for more important tasks.
- Know your social limits. Dealing with others during this time is pretty difficult for me, so I do not go to visit family for a week at a time. Rather, we chose this year to stay home for Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and visit for a couple of days at Christmas.
- Avoid stores if they bother you. With today’s modern technology, it is possible to get all shopping done from the comfort of home. If going to the store is only going to waste precious energy or cause you to feel emotionally drained, shop from your computer instead.
- Do things that you honestly enjoy. There are so many things to do at this time of the year– social obligations, activities, duties, things to watch, etc. Limit what you do only to those things that truly bring you joy. For me, that is sitting down and watching some favorite Christmas movies, especially the classics. No longer do I feel the need to run to every local happening just to feel that I have celebrated the holidays sufficiently.
- Lower your expectations. Many times we put more pressure on ourselves than everyone else combined puts on us, so learn to do what you can, and let things other things go.
If you have S.A.D., you know how tough that daily living can be, much less surviving the holiday season. You will feel happier and healthier if you learn what works for you personally, and if you allow yourself the grace to make changes as needed. Your top goal during the holiday season and beyond should be keeping yourself in the best spirits possible and stretching your available focus, energy, and creativity to the max.