Beating the Blues
Don’t assume that this is the most depressing time of the year. Contrary to popular belief, depression isn’t more common during the holidays. In fact, suicide rates in the United States are actually lowest in December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This may be a result of more social interaction, which has been found to enhance happiness,” says Caroline Adams Miller, the author of Creating Your Best Life ($20, amazon.com). But that doesn’t mean that you’re immune to the holiday blues, especially when you’re missing a family member or stressed-out by the in-laws. Make plans with friends if your family is far away—or, on the flip side, opt out of events if your schedule is overwhelming. “You don’t have to be a type E personality—everything to everyone,” says Ronald Nathan, a psychologist in Albany.
Consider a supplement. Is there a magic pill that will cure the blues? Of course not. But some research shows that omega-3 fatty acids may relieve depression; other research has found that vitamin D may improve mood. Add a daily supplement of omega-3 or vitamin D to your diet. Or increase your intake of vitamin D–fortified milk or foods rich in omega-3s, such as fish, flaxseed, and walnuts.
Take Facebook with a grain of salt. You’ve seen the status updates: “Hope Santa can find us in ARUBA!” or “Mmm, homemade cider, kids making cookies, life is good.” And you know what? Those people have bad days, too. Remember: Most people put their best self forward on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t compare your life with those dreamy-sounding posts.
Make plans for January. “If you have social events coming up with people you like, you’ll be upbeat about what’s to come,” says Alison Ratner, a clinical social worker in Atlanta. Plan a weekend getaway or an Oscar-nominated–movie marathon. Or, ahem, if you did gain that holiday pound, might we suggest a jogging club? Happy New Year!