Those holiday blues

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Gail Carlson, MPH, Ph.D., former Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

True or false: Feeling let down, sad, tired or lacking in energy after the holidays is usually a sign that the holidays were disappointing, unpleasant or did not meet expectations?

Many people will answer “true” when asked this question. The holidays can be a time of joy, fun and excitement, but they can also be tiring, disappointing and tension packed. People sometimes feel blue or let down during or immediately after the holidays. It is easy to assume that these feelings are a sign that the holiday did not go well or that changes need to be made. That might be one explanation. However, that let-down feeling may be nothing more than your body’s need to relax and recuperate after a very busy and hectic schedule.

During the holidays, there are many events, activities and people that act as stressors, causing stress overload. Some stressors are caused by negative events while others are the result of things that we look forward to. Stress can be caused by a single major event such as the disappointment that occurs when an unexpected ice storm keeps family members away from a planned gathering. Or it can result when little things pile up, even things we enjoy.

The body needs a chance to recover from stress. Without these rest periods, individuals are more susceptible to emotional tension and physical illness. There is also more risk of a breakdown in family communication.

For tips on how to keep holiday stress in check, read the full version of this article at http://missourifamilies.org/features/healtharticles/health7.htm

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