Fight the Holidays Blues

 

 

 

Ho, Ho, Ho. Happy holidays: Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Warm Winter Solstice. Most cultures through the ages, all over the Northern hemisphere, have holidays of rebirth and new beginnings.

Ho, Ho, Ho. Happy holidays: Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Warm Winter Solstice. Most cultures through the ages, all over the Northern hemisphere, have holidays of rebirth and new beginnings.

But, because days are becoming shorter here in the North, and because expectations for holidays are high, many people fight with depression, anxiety, aloneness and disappointment. The first thing to remember is that many people share these challenges this time of year. The next is to give yourself permission to feel some sadness and all the related emotions, but not to get lost in them or wallow in them. In our society many people use some form of opiates, or anti-depressants when feeling low. Sometimes this may be necessary over a period of time when the deep hole of depression, or the crushing immobility of anxiety, keep us from functioning at all. But, I feel that we are usually better off without them, and that they are definitely not the solution for a bout with general holiday blues. If we lower our expectations of the season, and raise our acceptance of whatever happens, we can do better.

Think of a holiday meal, for example. Maybe you are invited to a family gathering. You know uncle Eddie (or uncle Bob or aunt Jean) will be there and that he always ends up attacking your political beliefs. Well, if he always does, he probably is going to this year as well. So, why not be ready for him? Have questions ready, such as what he feels is working well on his side of the political arena. Then listen to him, but take none of it to heart. Uncle Eddie is just who uncle Eddie is. It is not your work to change him.

But what if you find yourself alone and lonely? Why not help someone less fortunate than you? Many churches, charities, and food kitchens either give out, or serve up, holiday dinners. One year during the holidays I had moved far away from anyone I knew, and I had very little money. I volunteered packing food for giveaways and served up holiday meals. I met all kinds of new people and made new friends. I was simply too busy to feel bad for myself.

Anxiety during holidays can be very tricky, of course. What if you think of the family gathering and you get an anxiety attack? What if you think of shopping for gifts and you feel you have no control? You can beat it! I have seen so many people get on the other side of those feelings. Take baby steps. You can call in sick to family gatherings, just as you would to work. If you have anxiety, your life is probably overly demanding, and not serving you well. Give yourself time out, reflect on what you can change, and make a new plan. Or, read up on self-hypnosis, affirmations and guided imagery. See yourself next year as a person that doesn’t have anxiety. You can manifest the changes you desire.

This is a season of unique beauty. There is a deep history of people coming together to celebrate the return of more sunlight. The year I was far away from everyone I knew, I walked down the nearby Downtown. I was an observer as you can only be if you are new to a place, and have no specific role in it yet. I observed people shopping, laughing, fretting, scurrying. I saw the beauty of the snow and the cold and the decorations everywhere. Most of all I observed it as just life and just another season.

The holidays have the potential to be miserable, or to be joyous. The only thing that can make a difference is our attitudes, our expectations, and our acceptance. The good news is that this is something we have influence over. This season is a time of giving and loving and that applies to ourselves as well. Let’s teach ourselves as you would a child you love and are responsible for. Set some standards, expect the best, applaud every victory and be loving and forgiving all the way. Then you will also have the energy to give others what they need – to be truly generous, as we should be during the time of the holidays.

But, because days are becoming shorter here in the North, and because expectations for holidays are high, many people fight with depression, anxiety, aloneness and disappointment. The first thing to remember is that many people share these challenges this time of year. The next is to give yourself permission to feel some sadness and all the related emotions, but not to get lost in them or wallow in them. In our society many people use some form of opiates, or anti-depressants when feeling low. Sometimes this may be necessary over a period of time when the deep hole of depression, or the crushing immobility of anxiety, keep us from functioning at all. But, I feel that we are usually better off without them, and that they are definitely not the solution for a bout with general holiday blues. If we lower our expectations of the season, and raise our acceptance of whatever happens, we can do better.

Think of a holiday meal, for example. Maybe you are invited to a family gathering. You know uncle Eddie (or uncle Bob or aunt Jean) will be there and that he always ends up attacking your political beliefs. Well, if he always does, he probably is going to this year as well. So, why not be ready for him? Have questions ready, such as what he feels is working well on his side of the political arena. Then listen to him, but take none of it to heart. Uncle Eddie is just who uncle Eddie is. It is not your work to change him.

But what if you find yourself alone and lonely? Why not help someone less fortunate than you? Many churches, charities, and food kitchens either give out, or serve up, holiday dinners. One year during the holidays I had moved far away from anyone I knew, and I had very little money. I volunteered packing food for giveaways and served up holiday meals. I met all kinds of new people and made new friends. I was simply too busy to feel bad for myself.

Anxiety during holidays can be very tricky, of course. What if you think of the family gathering and you get an anxiety attack? What if you think of shopping for gifts and you feel you have no control? You can beat it! I have seen so many people get on the other side of those feelings. Take baby steps. You can call in sick to family gatherings, just as you would to work. If you have anxiety, your life is probably overly demanding, and not serving you well. Give yourself time out, reflect on what you can change, and make a new plan. Or, read up on self-hypnosis, affirmations and guided imagery. See yourself next year as a person that doesn’t have anxiety. You can manifest the changes you desire.

This is a season of unique beauty. There is a deep history of people coming together to celebrate the return of more sunlight. The year I was far away from everyone I knew, I walked down the nearby Downtown. I was an observer as you can only be if you are new to a place, and have no specific role in it yet. I observed people shopping, laughing, fretting, scurrying. I saw the beauty of the snow and the cold and the decorations everywhere. Most of all I observed it as just life and just another season.

The holidays have the potential to be miserable, or to be joyous. The only thing that can make a difference is our attitudes, our expectations, and our acceptance. The good news is that this is something we have influence over. This season is a time of giving and loving and that applies to ourselves as well. Let’s teach ourselves as you would a child you love and are responsible for. Set some standards, expect the best, applaud every victory and be loving and forgiving all the way. Then you will also have the energy to give others what they need – to be truly generous, as we should be during the time of the holidays.

First appeared in December issue of The Echo World Magazine