Not having a holly jolly holiday? Dr. Michael Coudreaut offers five tips to relax

Jason Carlton



This holiday season, Americans are looking forward to a break. But throwing the best party or buying the perfect gift for children or loved ones gets many people stressed out.

“There is definitely some irony with the holidays,” says Michael Coudreaut, MD, from the Department of Psychiatry at LDS Hospital. “They’re meant to be relaxing and for people to unwind. However, in my life and in my practice, I’ve worked with a lot of people who get so stressed out they create their own mood symptoms.”

Because of extended to-do lists and limited time to get things done, people spend more time in darkness at the end of the day. According to Dr. Coudreaut, there is evidence that stress increases with the length of a day. As days get shorter, cortisol levels increase leading to increased stress. The decreased length of day and the angle of the sun make it more difficult for the skin to make vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels correlate with depression.

Dr. Coudreaut offers five tips to combat the effects of stress during the holidays.

1. Be in the moment and forget about the past. It doesn’t matter how grand last year’s party was or how many gifts were handed out.
2. If it causes too much stress, don’t do it. If you have a family tradition to make gift baskets for all your neighbors, and it stresses you out, get rid of the tradition.
3. Ignore holiday advertising. Many of the high expectations for the holidays come from advertising.
4. Exercise and get a lot of sunshine. Because of the cold, people tend to stay inside, which limits light exposure and the amount of vitamin D your body gets. A lack of vitamin D is related to depression.
5. Focus on the spiritual nature of the holidays. Every religion has a similar thought about giving at this time of year.

Following these tips will help reduce stress and give you the relaxing holiday you have been anticipating all year.
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