This is that special time of year when people are celebrating and enjoying the holidays everywhere you turn. It’s also that particular time of year when people struggle with depression, sadness, and loss. The “holiday blues” are fairly common and affect up to ten percent of the population to some degree.
There are many reasons why we feel down during this season that can include the loss of a loved one, memories of happier times, not having someone special to share the holidays with, or the stress of not meeting expectations whether financial or emotional. Whatever the reasons, there are ways you can color the holiday blues a happier color – or at least minimize them.
Renew Your Spirit
For many people, the holiday season is a time to renew their spirituality and recognize specific religious events. Visit a church or synagogue (or other religious institution related to your beliefs) and participate in familiar traditions while celebrating a renewal of your spirit.
Be More Charitable
It really is better to give than to receive, so become involved with a local charity during the holidays and help serve others who are going through difficult times. Go on a shopping spree and buy some toys for children, or stock up on non-perishable groceries for the local food bank. Adopt a family during the holidays or serve meals at a local soup kitchen.
Exercising and eating right are especially important during this time of year. People often get sidetracked during the holidays by over-indulging in sugar-laden foods and alcoholic drinks. In addition, they don’t get proper exercise which adds to their sluggish feelings. This compounds things further by creating a poor self-image and lowered self-esteem. Get out of a funk by taking a nice, brisk walk and drinking a cup of green tea to boost your immune system.
Set Aside Differences
Christmas dinner at Aunt Maud’s house doesn’t have to be the annual free-for-all or tension-filled affair as in past years. Make a pact with yourself to accept family members and loved ones for who they are without any expectations. Hopefully, they will do the same for you. But if they don’t and someone tries to pick a fight, just smile and wish them a Merry Christmas. This is not the time to air grievances, although it might be a good time to walk away.
If there is someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, send them a holiday card. You don’t have to say anything other than “thinking of you and wishing you well.” It will make both of you feel better.
This is easier said than done, right? However, it can be done with a little pre-planning. That includes planning menus and budgets in advance. Planning specific dates for shopping, baking, gift-wrapping, and going to holiday parties. You can also eliminate stress by learning how to say “No.” You don’t have to serve on every committee or go to every party. Give yourself regular timeouts by listening to soothing music, watching a holiday movie, reading a good book, or taking a long walk.
Seek Professional Help
You may find that despite your best efforts, you are still feeling uncommonly anxious, irritable, or sad. Sometimes those emotions are accompanied by the inability to sleep or feelings of hopelessness, making it difficult to do routine chores or even go to work some days.
For individuals who are coping with mental health issues, these types of feelings can be exacerbated by the holiday blues, making them especially tough to deal with. Don’t try to handle them alone. This is when it’s time to seek professional help.
Before getting buried under the Grand Funk Railroad, talk things over with a counselor, family doctor, or mental health professional. After working on some better coping skills, this really can be a special time of year for you and your loved ones.