LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The winter holiday season brings its share of seasonal cheer, with its array of parties and gatherings with family and friends. However, for many this time of year, it is filled with loneliness, sadness, depression, anxiety and stress.

According to, many of the factors that lead to negative feelings include unrealistic expectations, financial pressures and excessive commitments which can trigger stress and anxiety at holiday time. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can also contributes to anxious feelings or depression around the winter holidays. This is sometimes referred to as "seasonal depression."

Those who suffer from any type of holiday anxiety, depression or stress can benefit from increase social support during this time of year, with counseling or support groups that can beneficial.

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Based in Little Falls, the The Anxiety & Depression Initiative, Inc. (ADI) promotes and supports the use of physical activity to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to its website. This comes in the form of community activities, to introduce activities in a supportive environment around their peers, and educational sessions to inform the community of the mental health benefits of physical activity.

The non-profit organization recently held its first annual gala fundraising dinner at the Bethwood in Totowa. An introduction of some of the ADI’s accomplishments, along with its vision and future plans, was presented during the evening. Special guest speaker, former professional speed skater Bridie Farrell, talked about the profound ways physical activity has benefited her life and mental health. 

Other tips for working to beat the holiday doldrums include: 

  • Getting exposure to natural, as well as bright, fluorescent lights, which is said to significant improve mood in people with SAD.
  • Avoiding too much pressure by setting realistic goals and expectations, reaching out to friend, sharing the task load with family members.
  • Finding inexpensive entertainment options and helping others and/or volunteering.

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