How to Counteract and Deal with Holiday Blues
By Dr. Dennis Maness



The Holiday Season is upon us. Can you tell? It seems Christmas was upon us before Thanksgiving arrived this year. While this may be great for retailers, as a doctor, I started seeing the onset of holiday blues in my clients in October.

According to the American Psychological Association, about 19 million adults suffer from depressive symptoms. For some, all of the pressures of shopping, coordinating social functions and negotiating family issues bring anxiety while others start reminiscing about past holidays and become overwhelmed.

Things that may cause us to become anxious, down or depressed are many. It doesn’t have to be that way. People often recall highlights of a Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas or a New Year event from the past and hold onto what they remember as an ideal holiday from years gone by.

Today the facts have changed; we are older, the kids are older, many of the family have moved to distant places and this economy may bring financial limitations to many, making it impossible to reproduce the holiday in our dreams. The result is often family tension and holiday depression stemming from unrealistic expectations.

So just what is going on? The behavior on the outside is tandem to what is going on inside. As we start to slip into a depressive state of mind, we start processing from a different part of our brain. We slip into a state called Fight or Flight. The governing area of the brain for this state is completely on the opposite side of the brain from where we think and process our best thoughts and decisions.

As a matter of fact, most of the thoughts processed from this Fight or Flight area are thoughts of escape. We escape from the moment by recalling the past which causes us to miss all the new, happy memories being created in front of our own eyes. One process I do with people who are caught in this state and come to seek support is when I touch their forehead and ask them to focus on my touch. When they do, it moves their thoughts from “Flight or Fight,” even if momentarily to a new focus point, away from their current state.

I use a customized computer program that teaches them to bring their thoughts from their current state to the executive center of their brain where they create their best decisions and behaviors. Here, we work together to help them appreciate the past and to be aware of the present. This process also establishes new thought patterns so you are more in the moment and open, and able to create new positive experiences. You are more able to think and work from your highest potential instead of being stuck in a repetitive pattern zone of Fight or Flight which can only give you less effective fear-based solutions.

Remember that you are making new memories with fresh results with each thought and action. Make them pleasant, proactive thoughts and deeds and enjoy each and every moment. Live the moment with love and appreciation of your family and friends. Making new memories and new friends can be a great and rewarding gift that only you can give yourself.

Through these techniques, people learn how to be in the moment so they can deal effectively with the current issues, be present with their family and friends because this creates a more enjoyable and productive present and an even better future.  

If you have a loved one who is caught reliving “Times Past” telling them to “Get Over It” doesn’t help, it will only aggravate or intensify their pain. This is like telling someone who has a toothache to “Get Over It”! Make the holidays fun, light and filled with love.

Involve a family member who is reminiscing the past. Help them to create new and happy memories of the present, and to appreciate the great holidays we have enjoyed before. There are also serious health consequences to being in a depressive state of mind — the longer you stay in this state of mind, the more your body produces adrenaline and cortisol. This build up of adrenaline and cortisol will eventually be harmful to your body’s immune system.

The sooner you can leave this state of mind, the sooner your body can regain balance and start to repair itself and you can also start to make new memories with the ones closest to you.

It is important that you find help to balance your hormones, support your body to synthesize protein and to maintain mental well-being. Remember you have a choice — choose to live in the present and make your future one of your conscious creation.

Dr. Maness can be reached at HealthWalk™, located in Carlsbad, CA, (760) 929-1520
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