By DAN RICH

FOR THE ATASCADERO NEWS

I am not suggesting that these tips are new, or things that you don’t already know, but rather a list, basically reminders, of coping approaches to apply during the holiday season. 

I am not suggesting that one be a Scrooge or that there are not many positive aspects of the holiday season.

This is typically a time of celebration with family and friends.

Perhaps a time to enjoy parties, to get together, maybe a time to enjoy musical events, movies, plays, wine tasting, or whatever.

But there is another aspect of the holiday season for us to examine. It is the phenomenon known as S.A.D. or seasonal affective disorder.

Now, this certainly does not affect everyone equally. I must admit that I am a person who is greatly affected by the seasons by the weather. 

What happens for many individuals is that they are affected by the fact that in the winter months, especially in the far north in places like Alaska, Iceland, Scandinavia, Minnesota and other northern states, it is typically much colder and darker. The shorter days are usually also much colder.

Add to the weather; additional factors are that, for many, there are many more things going on, such as decorating, perhaps getting a tree, attending parties and other events, writing Christmas cards, preparing special food and special meals, like Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, which are typically more like feasts.

It is not that these tasks and events are not enjoyable, it is the fact that, for many, these things represent much more activity than usual. More activities, more multi-tasking, can also become more stressful.

Then add to the mix that many people get less sleep, less exercise, and eat much more.

Also, because of the shorter days and many times darker days, one is receiving less sunlight.

There also are psychological factors. For some, it is a time to remember the loss of a loved one, such as a spouse. When the family gets together, it can be a time of love and joy, but also a time of conflict, especially in families where there has been estrangement.

Here are my hints for coping with the holiday season: First and foremost, be conscious of the above factors that I have mentioned.

Compensation can include the following:

When possible, expose yourself to sunlight, at least 15 minutes or more a day, when practical.

Consider specialized light sources, Google light sources for seasonal affect. Amazon is one source, featuring a 10,000 lux Happy energy light, about $30.

Get adequate exercise, typically at least 30 minutes a day for most people.

Get adequate sleep.

Be aware of diet excesses, especially excessive salt, fat and calorie intake. Sometimes that may be very challenging, especially when eating Thanksgiving or Christmas feasts!

Be aware of psychological factors, especially when in gatherings of family or friends. It may be helpful to remember that this is typically also a time of stress for others, so making accommodations to that fact is appropriate. In other words, compassion for others.

Make sure that you include spending time in activities that you enjoy. 

Spend some time each day doing whatever you are passionate about.

For me, it is listening to classical music, solving computer problems, spending time with family and friends. Writing this paper was satisfying, especially if it becomes helpful to others.

Be selective about your involvement in events or duties that your friends, relatives or associates suggest so that you do not get overloaded with excessive activities.

Doing things for others during this potentially stressful time can be very rewarding.

Counting one’s blessings is a positive way to compensate for the challenges of the season.

I hope that this has been helpful.

Getting through this together, Atascadero