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Self-care during the winter holidays

December 3, 2018

Human Resources

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Human Resources

This month, we at the Employee Assistance Program discuss the importance of self-care.

As we approach the winter holidays and the New Year, the combination of holiday responsibilities and the growing cold and shorter days can feel draining.  Some find themselves growing more stressed, anxious, tired, or even depressed. This phenomenon can manifest as a mental health disorder.  Around 20 percent of all US residents experience a mild form of a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, 4-6 percent more severely. The onset of winter and the end of the year is the most common time for it to manifest.

This holiday and into the New Year, we have the following suggestions to make for a more balanced, manageable upcoming winter season.

  • Set realistic expectations for the holidays: Things won’t go perfect and that’s OK You can’t control every outcome, but you can prepare yourself mentally by visualizing your calm, positive response to negative events.
  • Ask for help:  If you are hosting or are taking on too many responsibilities, don’t be afraid to ask for support from family or friends.
  • Avoid excesses: Don’t eat or drink too much, practice moderation. A healthy diet and limited substance use prevents mood swings. Remember, alcohol is a depressant, and will make depressed feelings stronger!
  • Help those less fortunate: Make plans to visit a nursing home, or volunteer at a community center or soup kitchen.  It can be a fulfilling and centering experience, and it provides help for our neediest.
  • Make plans: Having a plan can alleviate holiday anxiety. Plan and schedule with others in advance! Also, the City is filled with holiday celebration options, many of which are free.
  • Monitor your mood: If you know you get stressed or depressed during the holidays or after, monitor your mood on a scale of 1-10 every day. Journal your feelings. If you notice a downturn, don’t wait for it to go away on its own. Reach out for support as needed.

More information and resources on seasonal affective disorder is available online.