Holiday Survival Guide – 1

Every single person on the planet Earth has experienced their own events that cause different types of stress. No one is immune to this intense feeling. But, when the holiday season pops up, so does the level of stress that many experience….

If you have felt any of the following, it’s probably safe to say that you are already dealing with some form of stress:

  • You are overly cranky
  • You find it difficult to get a good night’s rest
  • You are on a weight roller-coaster
  • You find yourself more “on edge”, i.e. fatigue
  • You feel as if the world is crashing down on top of you

While many of these “symptoms” can be related to things other than stress, we will be addressing them here as if they are created by stress specifically and explain some things you can do to alleviate some of it throughout the holiday gatherings, shopping sprees, and other unplanned surprises that are yet to come your way!

1) Stress-Reducing Tips to Help You Cope

Stick to a Normal Schedule:  This is important to ALL family members, not just you. Everyone needs to have a regular routine, especially children. We thrive on it. And children DEPEND on it! Diverting from your normal, every day scheduled tasks can add unnecessary stress to you and your family. So try to keep up with your set schedules of eating, sleeping, TV time, and of course play times. With the emotional excitement of the holidays, friends and family members coming for unannounced visits, and social “get togethers”, it can be a bit more difficult to stick to your normal daily routines, but it isn’t impossible if you have a solid support system (i.e. – a spouse, close family member, or valued friend that are willing to help you “stick with it”). Remember too that you can always make small adjustments to your normal routine to fit that day’s schedule of “hectic” events, but it will make keeping to your schedule all the more difficult later on.

There is also an “official” name for this, it’s called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD)[i][ii]. It is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, typically occurring in the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter. The key here is “daylight” Here’s a closer look at SAD:

Here are some of the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  • Depressed Mood: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness, which lead to loss of interests activities once enjoyed, such as avoidance of social interaction .
  • Low Energy: Persistent fatigue and feeling sluggish.
  • Sleep Changes: Oversleeping or difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Appetite Changes: Craving carbohydrates and weight gain.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: Struggling to focus or make decisions, i.e. loss of cognitive function


  • Biological Clock Disruption: Reduced sunlight can disrupt the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), leading to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin Levels: Reduced sunlight may cause a drop in serotonin levels, affecting mood and potentially triggering depression.
  • Melatonin Levels: Changes in sunlight can disrupt the balance of melatonin levels, impacting sleep patterns and mood.

Risk Factors:

  • Location: SAD is more common in regions farther from the equator, where there’s less sunlight in winter months.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to experience SAD than men.
  • Age: SAD typically starts in young adulthood and might recur each year.
  • Family History: Having relatives with SAD or other types of depression increases the risk.
  • Existing Depression or Bipolar Disorder: People with depression or bipolar disorder might experience worsening symptoms during specific seasons.

Treatment and Coping Strategies:

  • Light Therapy: Exposure to bright artificial light, typically using a lightbox, can help regulate mood by mimicking natural sunlight.
  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or other forms of talk therapy can be effective in managing symptoms.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, managing stress, and getting ample sunlight during the day can help mitigate symptoms.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practices like meditation and yoga might alleviate stress and improve mood.

Did you know there is one vitamin that if you have a deficiency in it exhibits the same symptoms as SADs?