The holidays are here! For most people, this time of year is eagerly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed. It is a time of joy and celebration. It provides a chance to relish traditions and connect with family and friends. For many folks, however, it is anything but.
Having the holiday blues can range from a mild sense of overwhelm to full blown depression. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing excessive sadness, irritability, sleep problems, social withdrawal, or thoughts of suicide, getting immediate professional help from a doctor or therapist is a must! For less severe cases of holiday melancholy, pinpointing the possible causes and taking preventive action may be enough to change the holiday experience from murky to merry.
Feeling downhearted about the holidays, or some aspect of the season, is very common. Here are a few of the possible causes and triggers:
• Expectations of the holidays and yourself that are impossible to obtain
• Sense of scarcity around money and possessions
• Grief surrounding the loss of a loved one
• Escalated stress and activity levels
• Family dynamics that do not mirror the Hallmark commercials
If any of the above reasons feel true to you, come up with preventive solutions: stop comparing – just do what feels fun, change the current gift giving expectations, find a way to honor someone you are grieving for, don’t accept every social invitation, reconnect with the spiritual aspects of the season, find the humor in your family dynamics or hang out with friends instead.
All of us can create a more pleasurable holiday experience by getting clear on what we value most during this time of year. Make a list of what you love and dislike about the season. Then, do more of what is on the “love” list and forego, delegate or tweak the “dislikes”. It really is that simple. It may not feel easy, but it is simple. ☺
If you are reacting to the above with a, “Yes, but…” ask yourself why you think you should be doing this activity that you do not enjoy. Doing something out of guilt, obligation, or tradition is not a good reason. Pursue things that you can do lovingly. Action taken with a loving heart will always feel better to you and the people you care about the most. Always.
Upping the enjoyment factor of this time of year is available to anyone willing to put in the time to explore the situation and make the necessary changes. If this isn’t working for you right now, no worries. Focus on what you are grateful for and practice the following until the New Year arrives:
• Pursue extreme self care: eat good food, get quality sleep, exercise
• Volunteer (focusing on others is a great way to bust through mild bouts of depression)
• Get outside
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, safe holiday!
Be you. No apologies.