Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Should be Red and Green, but can be "Blue"

"Busy" is an understatement to describe the Emergency Room at Thomason-Hospital in El Paso, Texas where I worked for two years. (I still think two years at that borderland trauma center equals at least five years of emergency nursing anywere else . . . ) In general, the day-to-day INPATIENT load tends to decrease during major holidays as patients are released so that they can be home for the holidays to the exent possible. Elective surgeries and procedures are not typically scheduled during this "down time." Departments that don't relate to direct patient care are "off for the holidays." As a seasoned inpatient nurse, I had an expectation that business in the ER would slack off at least on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I learned that first year how wrong I was. But the patients we saw were different than the day-to-day emergencies that usually overflowed our ER rooms. Instead, we had an influx of patients with vague complaints of pain or illness that had been going on "for a few months" or a "few years." When working for a large HMO speaking to clients by phone to answer queries regarding health and wellness issues, I notice a similar trend. Some of the folks who were calling the HMO or coming into the ER were simply coping with holiday stress and feelings of isolation or depression. A little bit of positive face-to-face (or voice-to-voice?) human interaction may be just enough to get us over the hurdle of the holiday festivities when we are stressed. In spite of all of our best intentions and our love of the Christmas holiday (speaking for me, anyway), about now, late in the day on Christmas, the anti-climax of the big day may be settling in . . . all the preparations leave us exhausted with a mess to clean up and less money in our pocketbooks. I thought it would be appropriate to include some links that just might help take away any the blue in what's left of Christmas:

From "Medical News Today" an online article reminding us that Christmas Holiday Depression is all-too-common. This brief article concisely identifies some of the key reasons that depression becomes magnified during the holidays.

(My favorite) Here is advice on how to "de-stress"--physically, emotionally, socially, creatively, relatively, mentally, and practically!!! (An article by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen published on Suite 65 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress.

Depression and Anxiety Support Resource: Here you can tell your story & read what others have to say. You'll find helpful resources here for times when life seems hopeless and sad.

The Mayo Clinic website provides many wonderful links--here's a good one to explain more about Seasonal Affective Disorder; "SAD" definitely contributes to our holiday-inspired-stress and depression.

All of those reminders to have a "Merry Christmas" and a "Happy New Year" are certainly well-intentioned greetings . . . bottom line . . . it's within ourselves to make it that way . . .

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