UConn Health Providing Tips In Beating The Holiday Blues

November 22 2021

University of Connecticut health professors offer advice on how to manage holiday blues, seasonal affective disorder and student fatigue, according to a recent article in UConn Today.

The holiday season can become a mix of negative emotions, especially for those grieving over a loss, recovering from an epidemic or from the usual lack of sunlight and cold weather found in most states during the winter. Dr. Neha Jain, assistant professor of psychiatry and medical director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at UConn Health, said people should check with their friends and family, especially if they know they are struggling.

“To help someone you think is suffering, the most important thing is to be there for them. Feel free to check in. Tell them you are there. What you do for them should depend on their needs, so just ask,” Jain said in an email . “They may want to create a new tradition with you. They may just want some company. Or they may want to have alone time to rest and recover, and to know that someone is available on the other end of the phone.”

Some tips for avoiding or treating holiday depression from the psychiatric experts at UConn Health are to get sunlight and exercise as much as possible to boost serotonin; Plan in advance to reduce stress and allow more time to spend with loved ones; And engage in activities that bring you happiness.

There is a biological explanation for calm moods during the holiday season, which can manifest in seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. According to Jane, getting sunlight or using a window or white light indoors will have positive effects on a person’s mental health.

One of the main signs of seasonal depression, she said, is persistently low moods.

“Most people are able to identify this as the days/holidays approach, and sometimes even if there are several cloudy days in a row, it affects their mood. Recognizing seasonal depression is about recognizing patterns,” Jane said.

There is a direct relationship between our mood and sunlight, said Dr. Jaish Kamath, professor of psychiatry and immunology at UConn School of Medicine and director of research for the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at UConn Health.

“Low sunlight in winter makes things more difficult and complicated when you add to the stress of the holiday season,” Kamath said in the article. “There is a direct relationship between the amount of sunlight entering our eyes, changes in brain chemistry, and our circadian rhythm, or our internal biological clock.”

For students, entering the holiday season may be their first real break in months. To alleviate some of the fatigue they feel as the semester begins, Jain suggested managing time, balancing your schedule to leave room for social time and ensuring you have some time for yourself to recharge.

Jane said, “It is important to examine your life periodically and make sure that your path aligns with your goals. Likewise, I think it is important to make a realistic assessment of how much work you can do and still have time for non-work related tasks.” . “It is critical to have social support that can support you, energize you, and save you when you need to take time out. Finally, it is important to have self-care built into your life – if you don’t have the time for self-care, you are at risk of burnout.”

The holidays on a large scale have the potential to be a healthier time when people release their emotions and practice empathy when they are struggling, said Karen Steinberg, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UConn Health.

In the article, Steinberg said, “Try to make room for these feelings and empathize with yourself through your own process. Help shift negative feelings by identifying and incorporating new beneficial practices that can help you.” “Whether you connect with supportive people in your life, cultivate mindfulness or awareness that focuses on the present, or use creativity or fun hobbies to engage your imagination and expand your perspective.”

The Daily Campus is a student-run newspaper from the University of Connecticut. Read more of their stories at DailyCampus.com.

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