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Strategies for the Holidays

Janet T. Loughlin, LICSW, CEAP
Partners Employee Assistance Program

The holidays are supposed to be full of joy, good cheer and celebration, but often the extra demands we place on ourselves leave us feeling stressed and disappointed.  People tend to overextend themselves during the holidays with parties, family gatherings and shopping. For many, the season is a frantic race to get everything done. For others, it can be a lonely time when they become aware of the people who are no longer there with them.

The financial pressures, exacerbated by increased holiday spending, overwhelm many.  When it comes to time, money, and social commitments, most people are trying to do too much. 

Here are some strategies for making your holidays more enjoyable:

  •  Keep a sense of balance:

      - Make a budget and stick to it.
      - Avoid overeating and overdrinking.
      - Pace yourself and plan ahead.
      - Learn to delegate responsibility to others.
      - Get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Keep your expectations realistic to avoid disappointment. Accept the fact that we are not perfect, so do not expect perfection from yourself or others.
  • Spend time with people who are supportive and care about you.
  • Avoid spending too much time alone. Consider volunteering. Spending time giving help to others can be a good way to wash away the feelings of sadness brought on by being alone.
  • Find time just for you. 

At this time of year, the daylight is diminishing and the weather is changing. The upcoming holidays occur exactly when we are adjusting to shorter and darker days. This can result in minor mood changes for some people and significant mood changes for others. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that is caused by light deprivation.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

  • Exactly how many people have SAD isn't well known, but estimates range from 2 percent to 10 percent of Americans. The disorder usually begins when you're a young adult. It's also more common in women than in men.
  • Warning signs: depression, anxiety, irritability, increased sleep, loss of interest in sex, overeating-especially carbohydrates, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and processing information.
  • Symptoms must be experienced in at least two consecutive winters, followed by non-depressed periods in the Spring/Summer, with no other explanation for the change in mood/behavior.

 

If you are experiencing these symptoms, or if the stress of the holiday season seems too much, please call the Employee Assistance Program at 866-724-4EAP for confidential assistance and referral to the right resource.

For more information or to discuss stress and resilience concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.


This content was last modified on: 05/04/2009

Partners EAP serves employees, and their household members, of Partners HealthCare and related entities.
Partners EAP is not a service for the general public.
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