It’s the most wonderful time of the year — unless it’s not. Holidays can be stressful at the best of times: There’s so much to accomplish in a short period of time, and holiday events may not live up to your expectations.
But if you experience “winter blues,” the holiday season can be particularly difficult. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a medical condition triggered by lack of sunlight, which can sap your spirit and energy.
Some of its symptoms include feeling depressed or having low energy, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed and experiencing sleep problems and social withdrawal. You may experience cognitive dissonance as you watch everyone else rushing around in the spirit of the season and see their happy photos on Facebook and other social media while you feel like hibernating.
If you think you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, work on ways to increase your light exposure. Even a five-minute walk around the block at lunchtime can help. Schedule meals with coworkers during the workday and friends after work; arrange outdoor field trips for your class; wear colorful clothes and brighten your classroom with colorful art. Bright light therapy, with doctor support, has proven very helpful (but do not use tanning beds as treatment).
If you need support, contact the UFT’s Member Assistance Program during business hours. Otherwise, contact NYC Well or 212-NYC-WELL, a free, confidential support service that is available 24/7 for talk, text or chat.
Time off can be great, but suddenly being home for the holidays without any structure to your day, particularly if you have no family or friends nearby, can be emotionally taxing. Try to plan in advance for unstructured time, so you can accomplish what you want or enjoy restful activities and outings.
And remember to take time for things that make the season meaningful to you.
The UFT Member Assistance Program offers short-term counseling and outside referrals to help you deal with a wide range of issues. You can contact MAP by calling 212-701-9620 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Appointments and referrals are available Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 50 Broadway in Manhattan.