By ROB JONAS
Some people look forward to the holiday season with anticipation and excitement. For others, though, it can create a sense of anxiety or sadness.
The latter carries the moniker “holiday blues,” and it can be physically and emotionally draining to those who suffer from it.
“It’s not just one thing [that causes it],” said Pinnacle Behavioral Health Director of Operations Rocco Pezzulo. “If there are family members who are no longer there whom they shared the holidays with, that can be a factor. Financial issues can be another factor, if somebody is struggling. With the over abundance of food available at holiday parties, overeating can also play a role.”
Combating the holiday blues is challenging, said Pezzulo, especially since the shorter, colder days can create a mindset that leads to being less active. Without that high level of activity, people can develop chemicals within them that creates anxiety and depression.
“I believe the body can create chemicals that have amazing powers,” said Pezzulo. “If you can create amazing chemicals, you can also create chemicals that can harm you.”
To help combat the bad chemicals within one’s body, Pezzulo said the starting point should be finding the good in the holiday season.
“One of the simple tips is to remind ourselves about the real meaning of the holidays – being together with our family and friends,” said Pezzulo. “It’s called cognitive restructuring. If you can reconfigure your thinking to remind yourself of the meaning behind the season, that can help you.
“Another component is taking time for yourself. Also, I would take more time to really connect with others in a truly meaningful way. You know how some people tend to put up facades when they are talking with people. Connecting with someone in a meaningful way with real emotions, rather than facades, can really benefit you.”
Finding ways to get the body moving can also help people combat seasonal depression and anxiety. Pinnacle offers several classes utilizing exercises and martial arts developed over the centuries in Asia, such as yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
“[Eastern cultures] say that physical and mental illness is caused by the stagnation of energy,” said Pezzulo. “Things like Tai Chi and yoga help move the energy in your body around. Once you get the energy moving, it’s amazing what it can do for you.”
Pezzulo said he is especially impressed with the benefits of Qi Gong, a Chinese martial art that is defined as a combination of meditation, controlled breathing and movement.
“To me, that’s probably one of the most effective modalities without the need for taking medication that I can think of,” said Pezzulo.
Pezzulo said people should also take medications prescribed by their doctors in conjunction with any martial arts classes they take. However, they may be able to ween themselves off their medications if the classes are successful in improving their energy levels.
By changing one’s mindset and getting one’s body moving, people suffering from the holiday blues can put themselves in a better frame of mind.
“Once you gain that momentum, you can create those healthy chemicals and live a healthy life,” said Pezzulo.
Pinnacle Behavioral Health is located at 10 McKown Road, Suite 102, in Albany. For more information about its classes and mental health services, call 518-689-0244 or visit www.pinnaclebehavioralhealth.com.