From elections to upcoming holidays, November can be stressful. Dr. Mike Franz offers tips for managing mental health throughout the season.
PORTLAND, Oregon – November is ripe for stress – from the election and a time change to the looming holiday season. Regence’s Senior Medical Director of Behavioral Health, Dr. Mike Franz, has tips on how to manage stress.
Seasonal affective disorder:
Summer time has just arrived, which means darker days. Also, the rainy season has arrived. Both can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as SAD.
Dr. Franz said the circadian rhythm of individuals tries to get in sync and that alone can be a trigger.
SAD affects about 10% of the population in the Pacific Northwest.
“Fatigue is really a prominent symptom, as is low mood and decreased interest in activities you previously considered enjoyable, but also increased carbohydrate cravings and increased appetite are specific to the disorder. seasonal affective,” Franz said.
Anyone affected by SAD is advised to contact their doctor.
“It’s treatable and in addition to maybe psychotherapy or, in some cases, medication. the most effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder is actually light therapy,” Franz said, “and you can get a light. It must be of an unknown light intensity like on a Lux scale and it is 10,000 lux.
Electoral and political stress:
The midterm elections are also a big trigger for many. There are many factors at play – from concern over election results and democracy to division and the bombardment of negative messages.
“The American Psychological Association did a study that recently showed that 70% of people don’t even think their country and government care about them anymore. Another study says 40% of people have thought about leaving the state they live in because of politics and on top of that there’s just worry about the economy and inflation,” said Franz. “So that’s another topic right now that I think a lot of people are understandably worried about.”
To help ease some of that anxiety, remember to disconnect and detach from social media. Take a break from the constant media coverage. Franz also said it’s important to focus on the things you can control, rather than what they can’t.
The “most wonderful time of the year” is not so wonderful for everyone. Many factors come into play: bereavement, family conflict and/or unrealistic expectations.
“They remember how things were when their family member was around and going through that without them can be very, very difficult. Also, some families just have a lot of conflict during the holiday period. You’re expected to spend more time with your family and for some people that’s just stressful on its own, so that makes sense,” Franz said. “Also with the holidays there are the expectations around cooking or hosting people buying gifts, traveling all of those things could be incredibly stressful.”
To cope, people need to remember that they are not alone and need to acknowledge these feelings. Also, they should try to manage expectations.
“Holidays are rarely perfect for everyone, so cut yourself a little,” Franz said. “And plan ahead. If you can handle certain things; whether it’s shopping, cooking, or planning a trip, do it a bit in advance so it doesn’t all pile up at the last minute.
One should try to follow healthy habits. It’s the holidays, people are allowed to indulge in the season, but need to make sure to get back on track.
“Do some self-care. You know, fuel up, make sure it’s a time when you get plenty of rest, try to eat as healthy as possible and stay physically active,” Franz said.
Whatever is causing the stress, Franz said to talk about it, and help to manage it is available if needed.
9-8-8 is the national lifeline in times of suicide and crisis.
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