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SAD becomes apt acronym during holidays

SAD becomes apt acronym during holidays The new year is here. The holidays are almost history. What about you? Do you feel like history, too?
The frenetic pace of the holiday season often leaves many people spent and stumbling across the finish line.

For some, the rundown feeling is more than just fatigue from weaving through shopping hordes, trying to beat postal deadlines and going to family gatherings. It is a form of seasonal depression that researchers said is becoming more common during Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve.

“Everybody feels stress this time of year. There’s no news there,” Richard Surwit, a psychology professor and vice chairman and head of Duke University’s Division of Medical Psychology, told The Associated Press. “There are job deadlines, Christmas shopping, you name it. Everything comes due at once. People go away on vacation, children have final exams, it’s the culmination of all kinds of deadlines at one point.”

The demands can produce “fight or flight” physical reactions such as increased breathing, blood pressure and heart rates, and muscle tension. Stress can also lead to depression, headaches, sleeplessness and listlessness.

Add that to the “seasonal affective disorder” suffered by thousands of people during these short, gray days surrounding the winter solstice, and there’s plenty of agreement that SAD is an apt acronym.

Hollywood stereotypes — painting images of flawless holiday gatherings and relationships plus the revelry of New Year’s — can intensify the effect.

“There’s so much hype,” Surwit said. “Movies and specials on TV glorify families and interpersonal relationships that aren’t like real life. And for those without good relationships, it becomes even more unobtainable for them.”

Whether real or imaginary, stress can cause a variety of responses, from poor attention or concentration, to a weakening of the immune system. That can be particularly true as holiday pressures collide during the SAD days.

The expert advice: You can either let go the stress or let it build up. It’s a matter of learning to balance things.

At least some advice doesn’t change.

Christmas questions

Are you chilled to the bone,

And all the food’s gone?

Are you blind or maybe even deaf?

If your answer is no,

Is He letting you know,

That all these are gifts He has left?

Let’s do a little thinking,

Between eating and drinking,

Are you blessed with a heart of compassion?

Would you hold back with greed,

If you saw a person in need,

Or would you help without even asking?

Would eyes sparkle and gleam,

Could an unfortunate dream,

Are you with folks that you love?

Wouldn’t it be nice to see,

How great Christmas could be —

If you were guided by The Hand from above?

— Bill O’Cain, Orangeburg

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