Coping With The Holiday Blues
This is the time of year when our senses are inundated by colorful and stimulating lights, decorations, and media. We are faced with a full schedule of activities and commitments with the assumption that everything–and everyone–must be merry and bright.
Our to-do list continues to grow while our resources–time, energy and finances–shrink. It is often difficult to cope with all of the added expectations, especially if we are feeling sad. Many of us feel down this time of year. As a mental health counselor and someone who struggles with the holiday blues I can attest to this. It is difficult to function at the level we would like to in order to get everything accomplished. And if you already struggle with depression this can be a really difficult time.
The main point I want to make is you are not alone.
Why We Struggle
There are reasons why this may be a trying time. Financial difficulties is one. Many of us struggle to make ends meet throughout the year and now try to fit all the seasonal extras into the budget. The added expense of gifts, decorating, travel, and cooking and baking can be quite expensive.
Time and energy both run short. There’s decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, etc., etc. to take care of. Fa la la la la. Exhaustion seems to be right around the corner just like all those bell-ringers wanting donations.
Expectations for a Hallmark Channel Christmas often run high. We may see perfection in the media, and then set our sights on having the ideal Christmas. This is unattainable, of course, but we still want it!
Everyone looks so happy and loving in all those holiday specials on television. Loneliness can become overwhelming over the holidays. We may not be able to see the people we care about the most for whatever reason. Or thinking about spending time with family actually adds to our stress and sadness. Many of us feel obligated to visit with people we don’t see throughout the year even though there’s a very good reason why we avoid them the rest of the year.
Grief can really make this time of year difficult. If we went through a break up or someone close to us passed away during the year it can be grueling. This year my family had to put down two cats we had for 17 years and I know this will be hard. The holidays often trigger loneliness and sadness. Unresolved grief can make us dread participating in any holiday events. This happens even if it’s not the first holiday without someone.
Plan of Action
Many of us, myself included, could spend a bit more time and energy on self-care. This is especially true during the holiday season when we have added duties on top of all the usual day-to-day things we do. I am going to say this as clearly as possible–make self-care a priority.
Go out for a walk to get fresh air and sunshine. Physical activity helps produce feel-good chemicals in the brain. Vitamin D from the sun is difficult to get this time of the year especially in the north. If you have a dog to keep you company on a walk that is an added blessing. Animals are great for reminding us to relax, not worry and enjoy the moment.
Take a break and enjoy a cup of your favorite tea, call a friend to chat, or take a nap. Read a good book, listen to Christmas carols, or take a warm bath.
You can read our article on why self-care is so important here Calgon, Take Me Away!
Volunteering at the animal shelter, food pantry, or your local nursing home is a wonderful way to curb loneliness. There are plenty of opportunities this time of year to help those in need. When we offer kindness to others what we receive back can make the holiday much brighter.
For more ideas on reducing stress check out our article on Self-Care Tips.
Have a Peaceful Holiday Season!