Healthy Living: Dealing with holiday stress & depression

While the holiday season can be a joyful time for many, it can also trigger stress and even depression for others.  Think about it.  There are end of the year deadlines, family gatherings, seasonal spending concerns, overeating, drinking... not to mention the long, dark days of winter.

Dr. Gregory Jantz stopped by the Q13 studio to offer insight into holiday depression.  His advice, face it head on, plan ahead of time ways you're going to cope, and reach out if you are lonely or need support.

Why are the holidays stressful?

This time of year there’s an expectation, everything’s supposed to be just right.  Sometimes there’s family expectations or sometimes there’s past hurt, anger, upset and then I think can I be with these people and so everything gets amplified, both the good and the not so good.    So triggers, I call it the overuse syndrome. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?  Overuse, so I overuse alcohol, food, I overuse spending so I begin to do this overuse of everything to deal with the stress.

What if someone is already feeling overwhelmed?

I’m not going to wait until the new year to start my self-care plan.  Sometimes we end up doing self-destructive behaviors because we’re blaming it on other people.  We’re saying, I don’t want to be with my family, or I overspent, so now I’m going to go drink.   So make a decision now, I’m going to start my good self-care now.  So what’s your patterns for sleep, you mentioned nutrition, how am I doing with my nutrition.  There’s always people bringing things, in the office,  all the treats.  So we need to begin ahead of time, what’s my response going to be.   So people tend, when it comes to weight gain.  It starts about Halloween, it takes us until the end of the year.  You talk about the average weight gain of eight to ten pounds.  Make a decision, I’m not going to do that.

How about dealing with loneliness?

I think we need to find a way to engage others.  This is a great time to be of service to others, people who really need us.  And we need to look at where can I actually volunteer.   Isolation and loneliness are actually different.  I understand loneliness.  You could be grieving a loss, bringing up painful loss, maybe a loved one.  So you’re not looking forward to this time of year.    This is a time you need to decide how am I going to engage in being of service to others.  There’s a lot of opportunities for that.

What is the difference between stress and depression?

Stress will go away, I’ll work through it.  Depression is going to stay with me, the symptoms are going to grow worse.