The anticipation for the upcoming holiday season will be unlike any other season most have ever known. Last year, most opted for virtual family visits, which for many families came at a good time, as the pending election, civil unrest and what side of the matter people stood on, pushed family tolerance to a whole new level. As if these factors weren’t significant enough, there are others that can make tolerating the stress of the holidays unbearable; the financial burden, the energy to “get it all done,” and the pressure to make family memories can leave some feeling depleted, exhausted, and overwhelmed, and that’s because these are aspects we can control to some degree. You can make adjustments by asking yourself, “Does spending more mean more?” or,  “Are the memories I think I am making the ones my family will even remember?”

There are other factors that can make you feel much the same, however, you have even less control of these. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is the increase in depressive symtoms that occurs during specific seasons. Research supports that higher instances for depressive symptoms occurs in the fall and winter.  SAD symptoms include: increased sleep, overeating, and withdrawal from socializing (hibernating). While winter and fall may carry the pressure of the holidays, what they do not carry is sufficient daylight. Sure, for SAD individuals this is the justification for hibernating altogether, but why? The reduced daylight impacts production of seratonin, a hormone that contributes to regulating mood. Research also supports that those who suffer from SAD overproduce melatonin, which we need for a healthy sleep cycle, but in excess would make one sleepy. To add insult to injury, with reduced sunlight comes the decrease in Vitamin D production-the body’s natural seratonin booster.

Is it any wonder the fall and winter can leave anyone longing for the hope of spring before it’s even started?! So how will you armor yourself for the highs and lows the season is sure to bring?

  • Take a Vitamin D supplement
  • Try light therapy (lamp that mimics sunlight)
  • Talk therapy
  • Antidepressants when appropriate
  • Be as tolerant of yourself as you are of your family/friends and reduce unnecessary stress where you can