It's the most wonderful time of the year...or not

This week in Michigan, temperatures dipped into the negatives, and while walking into work, I could feel my nose hairs start to freeze. For one of my co-workers, after walking outside, he came into work with tiny icicles in his mustache. Some people are "walking in a winter wonderland." Some people consider last week and this week "the most wonderful time of the year." But, for me, it's been "the most anxious time of the year."

This is how I feel about this time of year:

The sun sets by five
My bank account's dry
And there's another thing I have to buy
There'll be cracks in my lips
And icy sidewalk slips
And I can just pray to survive

It's the most anxious time of the year
There'll be social anxiety
And unsuccessful sobriety
As you drink your 10th beer
It's the most anxious time of the year

They'll be day dreams of sleep
Nights when I'll weep
And wanting to stay in bed all day
I'll feel exhausted while my nose is frosted
Yet I'll smile and say 'I'm okay'

It's the most anxious time of the year
I'll try not to panic as I take a Xanax
And try to feel holiday cheer
It's the most anxious time
Yes the most anxious time
Oh the most anxious time
Of the year.

Okay, okay, I know the purpose of this blog is to offer some helpful advice and not just be an outlet for me to whine. So here it is -- and hopefully it will help anyone suffering from seasonal stressors:

Lack of sunlight

For many of you, as the days get shorter, you go into work and it's dark. And when you get out of work, it's dark. If you don't know why you suddenly feel depressed during this time of year, don't just dismiss it as the winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real thing, caused by the reduction of sunlight during the fall and winter months, and it affects 4 to 6 percent of the U.S. population.

Symptoms include oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, low energy, and losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Light therapy boxes can be an effective way to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. With light therapy, you sit in front of a special light box, which mimics natural outdoor light, the first hour of waking each day. The light box should provide an exposure of 10,000 lux of light and emit as little UV light as possible. For more information about light therapy, visit


Now that Christmas is over and I'm paying my credit card bill, I can see just how much money I spent. And upon logging in to pay my bill, I almost threw up. In addition to the money I spent on presents, this month I also bought four brand new tires and a new battery for my car to prepare for the winter.

If you're depressed because of financial woes, it's okay to say "No" to things that cost money. If there's still presents you have to buy or parties or dinners you have to spend money on and you just can't afford it, be honest about it. Say, "I'm sorry but I can't." Your mental health...and your wallet...depend on it. And your family and your true friends will understand.

John Sharp, MD, a psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told Health Magazine, "I think saying no is more of a relief instead of stretching and spending more than you have and still not doing enough."

Being alone

Earlier this month, I was in my apartment, decorating for Christmas by myself. And, with the thought, "No one is going to see my holiday decorations except for me," I had a break down. The worst panic attack I've had in a long time.

My anxiety was telling me "No one likes you. No one would want to go out of their way to visit your place during the holidays."

But that wasn't true. My mom called me while I was having the panic attack and I picked up the phone, still sobbing. And, even though my parents live an hour and a half away, she didn't hesitate before saying, "We're on our way!"

According to an article in Psychology Today, "Studies clearly show that loneliness makes us underestimate the extent to which those around us care about us as we are likely to view our friends and friendships more negatively than we should."

"Merely ask what (your friends and family) are doing for Christmas or the New Year. ... Even if we’re skeptical about it, we should assume the person who invites us is happy to have us (otherwise they would not have extended the invitation in the first place). Spending the holidays with friends, even if not the closest friends, is far better than spending them alone and miserable."

Post holiday blues

After New Years Day is over, it's like going from 60 mph to zero overnight. You're hyped up from planning and parties and presents and then, suddenly — nothing.

Ephrat Livni, Quartz writer, said, "Think of your emotions as a rubber band that’s been stretched tight during the holiday season. After the parties are over ... you let go of the emotional rubber band, and it snaps back, sometimes with a vicious sting."

"Your blues, like the excitement that preceded them, are temporary and natural, so you needn’t fight bad feelings or cling to good ones."

You may see friends posting on social media, radiating with happiness. But there's nothing wrong with feeling less than festive. As Livini writes, "The best way to deal with this is to examine your ever-changing states—without judgement—knowing feelings and circumstances will inevitably shift again, and practice celebrating real life with all its many quirks."

If this time of year brings about feelings of depression, talk to your doctor. For help or for referrals, call Common Ground at 1-800-231-1127 if you're a Michigan resident or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And know that there are many people who are feeling the way you are right now.

You Might Also Like