Depression can strike anyone at anytime. however, there are some things you can do to ward it off.
Seriously, most people are of the opinion, at least here in the Northeast US, that summer never came and winter’s on it’s way.
You’re already tired of the phrases – “in these uncertain economic times”, “in this bad economy”, and anything else that signifies a struggling economy and losing money. It is stressful and anxiety producing, as well as depressing, to feel like you are on your way down financially, with very little control of how or when it happens. And in NYC these feelings are intensified by the tremendous layoffs occurring as a result of the financial crisis and the sprialing feelings of it not getting better any time soon. However, it is not all doom and gloom, and there are a few things you can do to manage the feelings of depression and anxiety that may arise from dealing with the current economic outlook. First, you need to make sure that you feel like you are in control of all the things which you can actually control. No one can control “the economy”; it is a vague and abstract idea to which we subscribe enormous power. Most important is one’s “personal economy”, that which you can control and and identify and make changes within. Your personal economy is not only financial; it is emotional, cognitive, and behavioral. If you can become a better analyst of your own personal economy, then you can retain better control of how you feel, think, and behave. This is not to disavow the power of losing one’s job, running low on cash, or feeling financial pressure in any form. However, how you deal with money tells a great deal about how you often deal with life. We’ll get into this further in my next few posts.
Cabin fever is a somehwat affectionate name for a pretty wretched condition – having a long winter with lots of cold, nasty weather where you wind up staying inside most of the time, not getting enough sunlight, and about to go out of your mind. Though we’re in February, Spring has peeked out only a little bit from behind her veil, so it is important to keep yourself healthy and well emotionally until you’re exposed to the more invigorating and activity-inducing weather of the warm weather. It is important at this point to remind yourself that we are now at the tail end of the season, soon you will be able to engage in a lot more outdoor activities other than skiing and snowboarding, and that you are already being exposed to longer days and shorter nights so you’re getting better exposure to sunlight and the ever-important vitamin D. Keep yourself engaged at this critical juncture, by making sure you spend time outside your home with other people, and take advantage of the brief glimpses of Spring that peek through.
Well, for those you who made it through the Holidays, Round 1, congratulations! You now only have Round 2 to contend with, whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Eid, or any other holiday I may have missed. Round 2 gets even more intense – there’s a build-up to the holidays as there is pressure to shop for others amidst a pretty tight economy while also still ensuring that you have a Merry, Happy, Peaceful, or what have you. The importnat thing to remember is balance – if you feel like your life is tilted totally in one direction, you’re going to feel very unbalanced. So if you’re completely stressed about buying gifts for everyone at the last minute, you’re still going to be thinking about this until you get to the last minute, which is quite unbalancing. If you’re more concerned with just trying to enjoy the holidays during such a tough economic downturn, there are lots of resources out there to help you cope with tighter budgets, and it seems like this is a pretty big media focus this holiday season. Finally, there’s family, again, to contend with. Remember that as nice as it is to be with family this time of year, it can also be overwhelming and stressful, and you have to manage that appropriately. Or it is quite possible that you are dealing with the opposite family issue, either being away from your loved ones or even dealing with the loss of a loved one at this time of year. In any of these situations it is appropriate to feel and talk about the emotions you are experiencing, and actually attending to them will make it easier to deal with this time of year in the long run. I hope you all have a good holiday season, and if anyone has a question they would like me to answer, please send me an email!
Well, here we are, almost to Thanksgiving! And the holidays only ramp up from there. What is usually the best and worst part about the holidays? That’s right, family. They can be lovely and fun to be around as well as maddening and frustrating. There are different types of family situations one can get in around the holidays and how you manage these situations is paramount to your successful enjoyment of the holiday season. Make sure that you have enough patience going into a holiday evet thaty you can deal effectively with those relatives who may not fall onto your best-behaved list. This isn’t an excuse for people who like to get drunk and make poor remarks, but it is to help you deal with people whom you may not see very often and with whom you may be able to have a pleasant time with if you can avoid getting into a spat. So make sure to take your patience and good humor with you when you go to this year’s big holiday family party, whether it be Turkey Day or any other day.
Changing of the seasons can often mean a changing of the mood. Many people claim they have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a depression brought about by too little exposure to sunlight. There is actually a fair bit of research around this topic, as there is a higher rate of population depression in countries where there are fewer hours of sunlight oerall, and the theory to date is that it may have something to do with vitamin D levels, which are enhanced by expoure to the sun. Whatever the case may be, however, people typically experience some type of reaction to the change of the seasons, andoften dread moving into a long, cold winter. There are many ways to combat this issue, including taling regularly with a therapist or someone else you trust, to even investing in a sun lamp that will help expose you to healthy ultraviolet rays during times when you cannot get enough sun. These are relatively inexpensive (usually under $200) and can often be a boon for those really suffering from SAD. For the rest of us, who may simply be a little blue because of the beginning of school, the loss of the warm weather, or the fear of monster snowstorms, make sure that ouy stay connected with the outside world, try to take a nice sun vacation in the middle of the winter if you can manage, and keep doing all of the other things that make you feel healthy and well, such as eating well and exercising regularly.
Back to school time! This can be an especially stressful time for children and parents alike. Going back to school means a complete readjustment of your schedules, getting up earlier for the kids, and generally getting used to a more busy lifestyle (that probably never got very slow in the first place!). It’s important to assess several things for both yourself and your child, such as: (1) is everyone getting enough sleep? (2) Does everyone have enough time for all of their essential activities before getting overloaded? (3) Does everyone feel balanced in their duties and responsibilities? (4) How are the relationships changing with the beginning or re-entering of the busy schedule time? (5) Is there still family time for everyone? These and other questions are very important when putting your family back in to school mode, and as long as you’re regularly checking in with everyone (including yourself), you’ll manage just fine with the school year transition!
How do you deal with anxety? Anxiety is an incredibly common prolem and one that I deal with frequently with my clients. Anxiety can be brought on by almost anything from a stressful life event to a hypersensitivity to stress. One of the greatest preventative measures one can take to combat anxiety is through exercise. Regular exercise obviouly promotes good health, but also tires out your brain and body, relieves stress and tension, encourages restful sleep, and drains the reserves that can often lead to increased and sustained anxiety.
For those of you who might be wondering how to deal with depression (an issue I often work with in counseling), it’s a good idea to first speak with someone who can help you to better assess how you’re feeling so you make a decision about whether or not to seek treatment. I often hear from clients that they spoke first with a friend or a family member about how they had been feeling and the trusted person would often be the one who would suggest to the client that they get some help. Utilize the people around you whom you trust, because they want you to feel better too!