My Favorite Bit of Information From The Week:
I am very fortunate honored to share a guest post by the amazing human Ingrid Franca. She has inspired me for a long time, and I was very excited when she kindly agreed to write a post for the One Woman Hamlet blog. The holidays can be very hard for me, and I found reading her post incredibly helpful, and moving. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Ingrid On The Holidays
Every year when September rolls in that’s when the anxiety starts for me. Winter is coming, and every year is dreadful. The holidays are a good distraction from the cold dark day, but coming January and February there is no distraction and that’s when it sets in. The self-analysis, the depression, the what-ifs of life and the “what am I doing with my life? Why do I live in Chicago?” So, when I was approached by the lovely Kate Smith to write this blog entry, I thought I could research and talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder and how winters are so hard on a lot of people.
For me, it’s the lack of sun that affects me the most, and it took me a long time to even realize that this happens to me, since then I have been following the most common treatments which include light therapy, vitamin D supplements, enough sleep, keeping a healthy diet and exercise. Research shows that just 30 minutes of cardiovascular activities can help relief some of the symptoms and when that sadness arrives every little thing helps.
Then, since Christmas is just around the corner, I remembered the spike of the suicide rate around the holidays and I decided I would research on that instead and where to get help. Although, while researching the holiday blues, I found that there are a lot of other reasons why people get depressed and to my surprise and relief, I found out that there isn’t a spike on suicide during the holidays, it is actually the opposite. “The holiday months usually have some of the lowest suicide rates…the average daily rates often peak in the spring and summer months…the months with the highest average daily suicide rates were May, July and March.”
It’s bizarre to realize that such a myth exists and that it hasn’t gone away for such a long time.
But the drop of the suicide rate doesn’t mean that the cold season is easier on us. Survey shows that a lot of people feel stress and depression over the commercialism, pressures of gift-giving, lack of money, high expectations and family gatherings.
Some people reported that it is during the holidays that the loss of a family member feels more real, while others feel socially isolated, among many other things that can cause the holiday blues. For some cases, the following coping mechanisms might help:
- Begin a New Tradition! Maybe you travel with your family or by yourself.
- Don’t give in to Holiday Pressure! Say no, feel free to speak what you don’t feel comfortable doing.
- Nature is always the answer! I know, I know it’s cold out and not everybody wants to be walking around outside, but I have found that for me just a walk at a Conservatory helps. Walk around, maybe bring a book and hangout for a while. Spending time in nature is proven to help reduce stress according to a Harvard study.
- Vent! Find a friend and let it out or write it down. Sometimes just the slowing down the feelings enough to write down how you feel can help. There are several apps that make it easier to journal in public spaces where pulling out a notebook and a pen would be weird. I personally use Journey.
There are many reasons why people could feel the holiday or winter blues, and for me personally every time I experience any sort of blues, I research more on the topic so I can find some answers on my own, but some people feel the blues longer than just the holidays and if you are one of them talking to a therapist can help. And as a reminder there are plenty of options to find help, including:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
24/7 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
And please remember that sometimes we want to isolate ourselves and that is ok but know that you can always ask for help. It is ok to not be ok.
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a peachy New Year!
Stay strong, be kind and practice gratitude.
Update On My Show:
1. The Conversations Cafe Podcast I mentioned last week is up and running here! It’s the Hope For The Holidays Episode.
2. I am memorizing away and getting excited to show you the first performance on January 28th!