Old Blues on New Year’s?

What are ya doin' New Year's, New Year's Eve …

If your response is, "What's it your business!" then maybe there's some help to be found from the following.

For many, the heightened expectations and stresses of holiday events can increase anxiety and cause depression.

But you don't have to be clinically depressed to feel the pangs of seasonal blues, according to Waguih William IsHak, M.D., medical director of the adult outpatient psychiatry service at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

According to IsHak, unrealistic expectations of family gatherings and parties often lead to disappointment and depression around the holidays. Financial stress, overbooked schedules and memories of "perfect" holidays past — or, of course, friends and relatives no longer here — can all contribute to feelings of tension, anxiety and sadness.

Since holiday schedules are hectic and often include unstructured time, planning ahead and anticipating how you'll handle difficult situations can have a big impact on how you experience the holiday season.

IsHak offers several suggestions for coping — and enjoying — the next week or so:

· Have realistic expectations of interactions you'll be having with family and friends. Chances are that your relationships with people will have not changed much unless you've invested in improving those relationships during the past year.

· Make a list and prioritize the activities that are important to you. Make time for those; consider carefully whether you absolutely need to do everything on that list.

· Don't lose sight of the meaningful moments of the season. Look for them, and be optimistic that you'll find them.

· Limit your drinking. Drinking too much can lead to uninhibited behavior, hangovers and remorse, all of which can lead to depression.

· Let others share responsibilities of the season. No one person in a family should feel burdened by all of the shopping, party-planning, cooking and holiday activities.

· Make an active effort not to worry too much or get bogged down with details. Live in the moment as much as possible.

· Try to eat well and get enough rest. Sure, that's hard to do right now, but the benefits of both are obvious.

· Make time for yourself. Everyone needs downtime.

· Remember that there is no ideal or model for a perfect holiday. With intermarriage, second marriages and so many different types of families, feel free to create your own unique way to celebrate.

The holidays are also a time when people feel the loss of a loved one more sharply. IsHak suggests planning something meaningful in that person's memory, such as donating a gift to the needy or volunteering with a charitable organization. 



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