How to beat seasonal depression have a stress-free holiday season

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Cold, dreary days and holidays that may not be so cheerful can cause a lot of people to suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) this time of year, so we looked at some of the signs and symptoms and ways to help you cope.

It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but that's not the case for everyone.

"Usually wants to oversleep sometimes overeat. Sometimes a little of irritability, difficulty concentrating. And in the extreme sometimes people do have thoughts of suicide," said Community Health Network, Mental Health Counselor Kimble Richardson.

Many of those thoughts and feelings stem from the loss of a loved one.

"One of the things we recommend is to not be alone if possible to be around other friends or family or other people who have lost somebody," Richardson said.

Therapists recommend honoring your loved one with their favorite family tradition or holiday food. Most importantly, don't shove your feelings aside and seek help if you know a change in behavior.

"If you're not concentrating well, if you're losing out on different opportunities having difficulty with relationships," Richardson said.

Finances, hosting family and a packed schedule can also wear you down. Experts say you should think and plan ahead to avoid things that could bring stress.

"You set some guidelines ahead of time like okay folks this year we're not going to talk about politics. Or this is not the time to bring up old family hurts," Richardson said.

In years past, Ball State University's Counseling Center released these 10 ways to beat the holiday blues.

  • Lower your expectations and accept that no holiday gathering is perfect
  • Make a holiday budget and stick to it
  • Express your feelings by writing in a journal or talking with someone you trust
  • Make a plan and realistically structure your time
  • Reach out help others by volunteering through your community or church
  • Watch your alcohol consumption, since it is a depressant
  • Exercise by taking a walk or doing yoga. Such activities will help release endorphins, the natural opiates
  • Stick to your usual eating habits. Plan your meals and try not to consume too much at holiday parties
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t have to have the best light display in the neighborhood or the best party
  • Think about what is the most important part of the holidays for you and focus on what the holidays mean to you

Therapist also advise if you feel depressed for more than two weeks seek professional advice.

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