Taking the light to the holiday blues – Dr. Thornburg
Mindfully Formulated For Families

Taking the light to the holiday blues

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The holiday blues - that nasty seasonal affliction that appears this time of year like a bad fruitcake wrapped in an ugly tie delivered during a sleet storm.



This will be the only mention of the downside of the holiday season and hopefully none of you will experience it. Regardless a word needs to be said and with enough time to put a nice plan in place to turn your perspective around.

December is about finding light in the darkness. The Jews symbolize this with Hanakkah, the Christians have the birth of Jesus and the atheists have the winter solstice. The human experience needs hope when life is dark. So lets light a symbolic candle to move you to the high gear of your soul!



Depression is contagious especially to children. Studies show depressed mothers had higher mean stress and immune biomarkers marked by increased cortisol and secretory immunoglobulin A (s-IgA) levels. Children of these mothers with depression also showed elevated secretory immunoglobulin A levels at age 10 years but cortisol levels were not statistically increased.

In my broad stroked opinion the cortisol represents the outward expression of acting out and s-IgA is the inward. Cortisol rises and falls with the day and should cycle based on the sun and moon. s-IgA is found in the gut and helps us digest what we eat and is independent of what is happening on the outside.

As adults we put quite a bit of emotion into the events of our lives. We then narrate new experiences to fit this story. Most children on the other hand release a lot of the stress that happens during the day through play. They mostly feel what is happening around them and release the rest in a proverbial “daily dump.”  This permits them to swallow the harshness of life without difficulties or a rise in s-IgA.



Do you remember how much easier it was to move effortlessly through a difficult day as a child and wake up not worried about anything that happened the previous day? A book titled, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers,” outlines how being chased by a tiger is no big deal after the fact. You and I would be freaked out for a lifetime! Instead the zebras go back to the simple pleasures of eating and playing.

My prescription for December therefore is to be more like Buddy the Elf. Play, joke, laugh, create, intermingle, be goofy and love unconditionally. Be a zebra and don’t sweat the small stuff.

You will parent to a more positive degree and with less criticism and intrusion. Your child will show greater social confidence, less aggressive behavior, as well as fewer signs of anxiety and depression, as a result.


So let’s keep Christ in Christmas, Han in Hanukkah, Sol in solstice and Play in playtime.

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