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Nurture a healthy holiday spirit

December Bridge to Wellness Column in Stockbridge Community News

by Patti Bihn, BSN, RN

While the holiday season can be a lighthearted time full of joy and good cheer, the hustle and bustle and stress that comes along with it can lead to a dark period of anxiety, loneliness and regret for some. Remember to set aside some time to care for yourself, your loved ones and your community.

Tips for embracing a healthy spirit

  • Be realistic about what you can do. Don’t put the focus of the entire holiday season on just one day. Activities can be spread out to reduce stress and increase enjoyment. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.

  • Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed and celebrated in its own way. Don’t set yourself up by comparing today with the “good old days.”

  • Try volunteering. Offer some of your time to help others.

  • Enjoy activities that are free or low-cost. Try things like taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping or making a snowman with children.

  • Be aware. Excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.

  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends or contact someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

  • Save time for yourself and recharge your batteries! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities so you can free up some of your own time.

Recognize when it’s more than just the blues

As the days get shorter, with longer, colder nights, many people find themselves feeling sad. They tend to suffer from symptoms of depression during the winter months, with those symptoms subsiding during the spring and summer. For many, it’s simply a normal response to less sunlight, but for others, it can be a clinical form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Some people respond well to light therapy, while others may also need support from medication.

Additional support may be needed if you are experiencing ongoing feelings of sadness or despair, see changes in your sleep patterns and/or appetite, or are lacking concentration and interest in your daily life. Seek professional help for a diagnosis and treatment from your primary care doctor or mental health care provider. To determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, take a screening at:

This column was sponsored by the Stockbridge Area Wellness Coalition (SAWC). Patti Bihn is the Faith Community Nurse Liaison and Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Coach at Chelsea Hospital.

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