Season to be Merry?
Not for Everyone
With tunes imploring us to deck the halls and fa-la-la-la-la, it seems that the joy of the holiday season is in everyone and that all are ready to celebrate. Unfortunately, however, not everyone is mentally ready – or able – to jump onto the holiday bandwagon.
For someone depressed, the urging of the holiday season to be happy is not only nearly impossible to accomplish, but can actually push a person down deeper.
Contrary to popular belief, research indicates that suicides during the holiday season do not increase, however, there is no denying that holiday depression is a fact. This may be especially true in a cautious economy that we’re experiencing when we might not be able to make those Christmas purchases that we want to make but are almost guilted into making.
As a voice of someone who in her younger years battled depression, I offer some advice to both the depressed and those who love them.
If you’ve got the holiday blues, something as simple as stepping back from television and radio where we’re bombarded with buy, buy, buy messages is a good idea. Consider taking a walk or a hot bath – basically unplugging from the season for a little bit. And exercise releases those wonderful endorphins which make you feel better plus it helps combat the extra calories we generally intake during the holidays.
Creating coping mechanisms for the stress that the holidays can generate will go far in creating a calmer disposition. The Mayo Clinic has some tips online that might help. www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/MH00030
Volunteering can also fight those depressing demons. By getting involved with an organization that is dedicated to helping those in need, you step outside yourself and are able to look around at those who can benefit from what you have – a strong back, nimble hands and a willing spirit. It can also be a powerful reminder of those things that you do have, be it a job, family, friends or a roof over your head and a warm place to sleep.
For those who are majorly depressed, while these suggestions can’t hurt they probably won’t provide the relief that you need. If you haven’t already seen a health care professional, I urge you to do so. We’re so fortunate living where we do – there are plenty of resources that can offer help and direction.
If you love someone who is experiencing the holiday blues or over the past year has suffered loss, I encourage you to reach out to your loved one. Invite them over for dinner or to go for a walk. Give them the opportunity to talk about what is bothering them, or offer the freedom of just being quiet and spending time with you. The main thing is to not forget that they’re around and their presence is wanted.
Remembering what the season is truly about – celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ – can have a stabilizing effect. While I understand that Dec. 25 is not the actual birth of Christ, it is the date chosen to celebrate the birth of whom many believe is the Son of God. I think that it is sad that with all the holiday cheer being blasted at us, little is dedicated to this foundational bit of information.
Keeping in mind the “reason for the season” can go a long way in refocusing our attention away from the mundane and toward that which brings true “comfort and joy.”
Merry Christmas and I hope your holidays are filled with love and joy.