Those in the counseling professions will often say that there are more incidents of depression/suicide during and following the Holiday Season that at any other time of the year. Some of the reasons include the re-emergence of dysfunctional relationship issues which clash with the high hopes and expectations for a “perfect” family gathering. This clash of fantasy VS reality can make it very difficult for people to enjoy themselves, their families and their lives. For some, the depression has been in hiding but when it bumps up against the expectations, pressures and disappointments life dishes out at holiday time, it seems to magnify the true underlying feelings. These days, the abuse of alcohol and drugs (prescription and recreational) can depress the nervous system to the point of feeling depressed. Since the Holidays are a time of parties and celebrating, there is no shortage of substances to abuse!
So I was very pleased to see in our local Province paper, a short article by Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen – the You Docs – entitled, The Pursuit of Happiness Will Lead You To Better Health . Most people know these fellows from Oprah Winfrey’s show, as she consulted them on many subjects. I wish to share some of their thoughts.
“… You deserve true happiness and much of your emotional and physical health depends on it. Positive emotions cancel out stress-related risks such as heart disease and cancer, and make you younger. So how do you get happy? Follow these seven steps:
1.Talk nicely to yourself – trade put-downs for encouraging words
2. Connect – really talk with people you care about; get physical, too; hugs stimulate oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone”, spreading a feel-good boost
3. Keep a daily gratitude journal – writing down what you are thankful for makes you healthier and more optimistic
4. Don’t sit around – being active at least 30 minutes a day boosts happiness – and makes your body’s Real Age seven or more years younger
5.Meditate – it eases stress, strengthens immunity, ups happiness – big time!
6.Understand unhappiness – when it happens, learn from it; it’s a chance to make positive changes
7. Go for gentle and generous – The real secret to being happy may be in realizing that true peace is about slowing down enough to recognize the gifts you have – gifts you can be passing along to others.
The payoff? Huge! You’ll be better able to cope with stress or pain and to fight off colds, flu, heart disease, even cancer. And a big plus: You’ll be happier!” (The Province, January 2012)
While the suggestions are great for helping people stay positive and happy although they may have sadness, there are some types of depression that require more help than what is suggested above. If you or someone you know has tried to manage depression but it hasn’t improved, you may need to seek professional help. Research shows that individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioural therapy, nutritional and exercise protocols and/or medications can all play a part in recovering from clnical depression. But the first step must come from the person affected. Or a concerned family member or friend.
We have free information at the Centre on community supports and crisis services to help people with various emotional, psychological or substance abuse issues. We will have this information posted on our website shortly. No one needs to feel alone or powerless on their journey to regaining Happiness and Health.
Article written by Pat Antoniak Registered Nurse – Registered Aromatherapist
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