The holidays are a joyous time, where all your family and friends come together to celebrate Christmas and just as well, life. However, it is researched that this is also a time where people feel increasingly stressed or just SAD. No, not the emotion sad, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is one of the major forms of depression that is more prominent among these holiday times. Lisa Feldman Barrett, a distinguished Psychology professor at Northeastern University, can list the ways of avoiding being overtly sad during holidays.
In her book, “How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain”, Barrett proposes a theory where the human mind is actually seen to be ‘constructing’ stress-inducing thoughts and ideas, due to the functioning of the brain. It is only when the brain experiences imbalance that it produces stress reactions in our body. The ‘bad’ stress makes your brain to prepare for something immaterial, making it even more chronic. She says, “You feel as if you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. The sensations translate as affect, which is a raw ingredient of emotions: You experience fatigue, depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, disgust, and agitation.”
The reason behind our increased stress levels during holidays, according to Barrett, is basically because we are social species. It is the reason why we are affected by others around us. There are good times around us sure, but more the people, more the ‘angst’ is experienced by us. It can have all sorts of effects on our bodies.
In order to avoid stress – or least decrease its intensity – there are ways to do exactly just that; basic lifestyle choices, but still effective. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating healthy meals are the relatively permanent remedies on SAD. Barrett also emphasises on how important it is to go on walking every day if it’s possible for you. Barrett believes – and it does make sense – that “Even on the greyest day, you can find something that will inspire a sense of beauty or awe. And that’s what the holiday season is supposed to be about.” So, keep yourself healthy and enjoy the holidays as they are meant to be celebrated.