If Holiday Season Makes You Feel Depressed, Don't Overlook These 8 Things

by Sheila Amir

Perhaps it's the sight of the Christmas décor that snuck its way in the back corner of the stores before the Halloween candy went on sale.

Maybe it's the patronizing luxury car commercials reminding you of your slim wallet and hopes at finding a date anytime soon, let alone a lasting mate to buy an overpriced car.

It could be that Drake and Rihanna's breakup and its bizarre aftermath are finally starting to sink in. If they can't make it, who can?

Whatever it is, you've surpassed the initial stages of ennui and you're feeling lousy both physically and emotionally.

Holiday Blues aren't a new notion, they're a legit condition acknowledged by the health community. Increased demands on time, energy and money make it easy for anyone to get stressed and depressed AF.

Typically we look to the common culprits to figure out what's causing our holiday blues: family disputes, money woes, cold temps, darker days and unrelenting Christmas music.

But there are other factors in your life that may be to blame -- and you may not even realize.

1. Not getting the D.

Vitamin D deficiency is a big deal. It may be the biggest culprit behind holiday blues.

Short term, it can lead to sleep issues, poor concentration, weight gain and headaches.

Come October, the zenith angle at which the sun hits the northern regions of the US does NOT produce the right wavelengths needed to yield vitamin D production in your skin.

It doesn't help that we also start wearing more clothes and staying indoors more as the temperature drops.

Don't think living in the South protects you from vitamin D deficiency. Summer heat sun avoidance has southern folks from Cali to Florida getting zero vitamin D.

Other factors that get your D down: clothing, sunscreen, excess weight, stress, certain medications, chronic pain, darker skin (melanin is a natural sunscreen and thus decreases the amount of vitamin D made in the skin), kidney issues and thinning skin. Sorry darlin', but your skin starts to thin around 23 or 25. Not a lot, but that's when it starts.

Get the D on the daily with supplementation of at least 2,000 IU daily. The Vitamin D Council recommends adults take 5,000 IU daily.

Get your vitamin D levels checked as soon as possible. If you're deficient, a higher supplement will be recommended by your nutritionist or health care provider.

2. Dehydration.

Dehydration is the fastest ticket to the Hot Mess Express.

Not getting enough fluids throughout the day lowers your energy and makes you unreasonably cranky and irritable.

With cooler temperatures in the winter months, drinking water can easily go by the wayside. It's common to want hot coffee, tea or cocoa instead of water.

But fear not: Nobody said you can't drink plain hot water. It's cool bro. Kick it up a notch by throwing some lemon juice in there.

3. Zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency is associated with depression, poor memory, a weak immune system, diarrhea, acne, food allergies, thinning hair… and the nasty list goes on.

But make sure you do your research before plowing through a bottle of zinc supplements.

There are some drawbacks. Zinc is a metal. Metal tastes like metal. The human body doesn't like a metric ton of metal intimately plunged into it. Zinc toxicity is real yo, and yet, completely avoidable.

Pick up some zinc lozenges or a low dose zinc supplement and take them sparingly, like one every other day with your last meal of the day, along with an omega-3 supplement and your vitamin D.

Remember you can also get zinc from real, delicious foods like pumpkin seeds, organic red meats, cashews, chickpeas, yogurt, zucchini and, wait for it, oysters.

4. You're ungrateful.

Oprah has been saying it for years -- adopting an attitude of gratitude is great for everyone.

It's even more important when you feel as though you have nothing to be thankful for. That is exactly when you need to step back on reflect on what you have to be grateful for.

The holidays, society and life in general can have a relentless, pressing way of reminding us of everything we don't have. Take time now and every day to practice gratitude.

Take time now and every day to practice gratitude.

5. Poor intestinal microflora.

Healthy bacteria in your intestines are associated with improved mental health.

A gut lined with bad bacteria is associated with poor mental health.

Probiotics (healthy bacteria) are helpful in alleviating anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental health issues.

Refined carbohydrates, artificial food dyes and a slew of other nasty food additives wreak havoc on your intestinal microflora. These guys are basically Sith – they kill off all the good guys and give rise to weak ass bad guys.

Put down that neon red Santa sugar cookie and pick up a probiotic supplement that contains at least one Bifidobacteria and one Lactobacillus bacteria. Yogurt, bubbly probiotic bevies, kefir, kombucha and the like have enough healthy bacteria to keep a healthy colony going, but not enough to establish a healthy colony.

Put down that neon red Santa sugar cookie and pick up a probiotic supplement.

If stress, medication and food additives have laid waste to your healthy bacterial colonies, you need a supplement.

6. Omega-3 deficiency.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help immensely with depression and several other health issues.

These fatty acids occur naturally in some fish like salmon and in seeds and nuts.

So put some nuts in your mouth and get happy. Also take an omega-3 supplement on the regular, unless your doc says not to do that. In that case, don't do that.

7. Clutter.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up," didn't become a bestseller because it's a riveting tale with surprise ending.

Millions bought the book because they're tired of living in constant clutter. External clutter is a sign of external clutter. Think that's crazy? Then try cleaning up your space and see if you don't end up working through any issues while you're at it.

External clutter is a sign of external clutter.

Cleaning up your living area, vehicle and office space can dramatically boost your mood. It clears out bad memories and to zen hippies, bad energy.

Start by making four piles (or well organized boxes): trash, recycle, sell and donate. If you're not keeping it in your life, into one of the bins it goes without ever coming out. Be ruthless and stick to it!

If cleaning has you feeling brazen, keep going and try the 20% elimination enrichment. Go through each type of your belongings and get rid of 20%, using the 4 groups mentioned above. Got 20 pairs of shoes? Can you live with 16 and give someone in need 4? Have 100 Blu-rays? Can you part way with 20 and make a little side scratch? Honestly, if it doesn't have Stallone in it, is it even a movie worth watching? No.

An added perk of all this is it will keep your mind off your woes while all those nutritional changes start to kick in. Sometimes the magic lies in the simple art of distraction.

8. You were already depressed and/or anxious.

If you were already dealing with mental health issues before the holiday season, the relentless pressures, bell dinging and reality-dodging Beamer commercials aren't going to make things any better.

Do yourself a solid: repeatedly remind yourself that you deserve to feel better.

Do the best you can and take it one day at a time. “One step, one punch, one round at a time,” to quote the almighty Rocky Balboa.

All this too shall pass. It will pass faster if you reach out for help.

See if your employer provides something called an Employee Assistance Program, or something similar. This type of program typically provides 6 to 10 free counseling sessions to employees by qualified mental health professionals who are in no way shape or form in cahoots with your employer at any level. Counseling may also be covered in your insurance program.

Remember, it gets better.

Eventually the soul-sucking Christmas music stops. Luxury car manufacturers stop mocking your relationship and financial status.

You no longer have to pretend you love all your family members or feel inferior because you haven't had a baby.

No matter the season, life gets better if you let it be better. Reach out for help and take care of yourself – even if that means being the ridiculous auntie or uncle making snow angels with all the kids while the adults discuss politics and the stock market.

No matter the season, life gets better if you let it be better.

You've already started to turn things around for the better by reading this article all the way through.

Next, make a list of everything you're grateful for, as gratitude is the biggest champion of your mental health and quality of life.

Make it a point to do this daily.

Then start doing the little things mentioned in this article like taking vitamin D and eating zinc rich foods.

Continue reading about how eating healthy can make you happy and put the information to work.

This article was originally published on Sheila Amir is owner and author of where she encourages people to live a happy, healthy, well-nourished life.