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Take Control of the Silver Bell Blues

By Yvette N. Cenac

Are you feeling like you need to be of good cheer but you are not? Well, you are not alone. Over 19 million Americans suffer from depression each year. The holidays tend to make matters worse. Before you reach for that antidepressant. Ask yourself three things:

1) Why am I so sad?

2) Did I feel like this last year or is this new?

3) Should I see my doctor?

For question number one, get a pen and paper and write down everything that is going on in your life right now (good and bad). Are you involved in a huge project at work? Is your mother's doctor running additional diagnostic exams on her? Did you review your new year's resolution from last year? Did you get on the scale? Write it all down. These are stressors, things or events that leave you feeling uncertain, anxious or disappointed. The best way to handle this type of sadness is to acknowledge that it exists, decide whether you have the power to influence the outcome of the events that are upsetting you. If you can change things"get going. If not, then you must accept the moment and slowly move through it as positively as possible. Make sure that you are getting adequate sleep and staying hydrate. Holiday parties can be physically and mentally exhausting, and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating and act as a depressant. Everyone knows the saying - expect the best, prepare for the worst. Put this saying into action now.

The second question will take a little investigation. If you kept a journal of last year's events, look back at it to see if you were feeling blue around the same time last year. If yes, then you may be in the clutches of Silver Bell Blues or suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Silver Bell Blues is quite simply, holiday depression. You are in good company. We place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others around us because of the dates on a calendar. November and December are the times of the year that we usually reflect on last year's resolutions. Were you determined to write that novel in 2005? How about losing ALL of your excess weight? We really know how to set ourselves up for a fall. We also start to worry about gift giving and how it will affect our bottom line - the wallet!

People that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) have a hard time dealing with the changing of the season and the loss of sunlight. Like most mammals and plant life, we naturally slow down (which prompts weight gain) to prepare for some type of winter hibernation. But our need to work and produce goods to keep our society running flies in the face of Mother Nature. Moderate exercise is a great mood enhancer and will help stave off any additional weight gain. The National Mental Health Association recommends taking advantage of the early morning sunlight by getting up a bit earlier. Phototherapy, or artificial sunlight therapy, also helps.

If you feel suicidal, listless or hopeless. See your doctor. If you even suspect that you may need to seek professional help, do so immediately. Be very open and honest with them about what is going on in your life. Alert him or her to any medications or herbal supplements that you are taking, or any exotic dietary changes. Some medicines can adversely interact with each other, some herbs are natural depressants, and some foods can set off allergic reactions in the body that can alter or hinder brain function and oxygenation. So, to recap:

Silver Bell Blues Call to Action:

1) Get moderate exercise, drink water

2) Do not take on more than you can handle, prioritize

3) Concentrate on enjoying the time spent with friends and loved ones

4) Don't dredge up past hurts with relatives during the holidays. Save it for another time. When addressing past digressions, make sure you clear the lines of communication with candor and compassion

5) Start new traditions. By trying out new ways to enjoy the season you will unearth, appreciate and validate your needs

6) Watch your Cosmopolitan and Bloody Mary intake

7) Volunteer your time to charity. Helping others is a great way to exercise your unique talents and adds purpose to your life

8) Re-think your definition of gift giving. Instead of using money, offer to help your loved one or neighbor complete a household chore. Anything but another scarf for Aunt Connie ;-) If you must spend, take the advice of Greg Krech, an authority on Japanese methods of psychology - allow yourself a $100 gift budget, total. Don't spend anymore than that this year.

9) Make some time for yourself. Get extra sleep, read a book, turn off the television, experiment with aromatherapy (Jasmine is a mood enhancer), lose yourself in music

10) Take a moment to congratulate yourself for your achievements this year. We all have them. See the future through rose colored glasses. Life is full of promise and opportunity.

Keeping a positive frame of mind is essential this time of year. And when all else fails, remember - smiles are contagious and spring is only a few short months away.

About The Author
Yvette N. Cenac is the president of Basket In A Bag, a family oriented, all occasion gift basket service located in New York City.

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