Thursday, December 11, 2014

Published 8:30 AM by with 0 comment

5 Tips for Coping with the Holiday Blues

Handling depression during the holidays is tough

This is my favorite time of the year. It is also one of the most painful times of the year for me as I have experienced a lot of personal loss between September and January. It seems every month during the fall and holiday months, there is a loved one’s birthday that I celebrate without them or an anniversary of a death that I still personally grieve or holiday memories of loved ones that have passed away. Feelings of grief and the expectation of a joyous, reflective disposition during this time of the holiday season can be overwhelming and obviously conflicting for some. For those who are experiencing loss at any stage, it can be unbearable and the absence of their loved one during this special time of the year takes away the joy out of the season that is often celebrated with family and friend time, gift exchanging, holiday parties and such. Without those we hold dear, it can seem meaningless.

Others experience mounting stress during this time of the year because of the demands of finding the perfect gift, hosting the perfect holiday party, trying to give gifts on a budget, realizing that there is no budget, over-spending and anticipating regrettable credit card bills, meeting end of the year deadlines, trying to navigate traffic because of increased holiday preparation activity, spending time with family in the midst of existing tension. Some of these are self imposed and others are circumstantial, either way this season can annoy the hell out of some people.

If you find yourself walking around singing "Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love" while you down your third rum eggnog, or you are cutting people off in traffic and flipping them the bird afterwards because the mall exit is causing a traffic jam, or maybe you have mindlessly taste tested a third of 100 cookies you baked for gifts..... STOP! These are not healthy ways to manage your feelings.

For people who are already struggling with depression or anxiety, these are behaviors that will only make it worse. For anyone else who is coping in these ways or those that are similarly self-sabotaging, your coping skills could use an upgrade.

Here are a few suggestions for how to “take a minute and get yourself together” this holiday season:

1. If you are grieving and have not considered seeing a grief counselor this would be a good time to see a therapist, your faith leader or even a trusted, wise friend. Talking about your feelings of loss can help you process your pain and possibly gain some perspective about your grieving process. Sharing about your memories with someone who can appreciate them also helps. Remember that loss can include, divorce or other relationship break ups, jobs, homes, etc.

2. Do some physical activity. It doesn’t matter if you don’t normally exercise. Do something NOW. Anxiety builds and the pressure can make you react irrationally. Do something good for yourself with that pent up energy and emotion. Personally, I like Zumba because I like to let out a good “Wepa” or yell, lol. Dance, walk, run, go to the gym….get those endorphins up, it works!

3. If the holiday season is a time during which you commemorate a faith tradition, take some time to reflect on that. There is a message of love, goodwill, selfless giving, peace in all of the faith traditions associated with this time.

4. Take the financial pressure off of yourself. If you do not have money to buy tangible gifts, do something for someone. Gifts of time and service come from the heart and are actually more priceless than those that are bought because your time can’t be redeemed. Be creative, be sincere. Those who love you will be appreciative.

5. Rest. Take some time to reflect and find the joy in the small things. All of the time spent reacting, worrying and being angry is energy spent. Replenish yourself with what makes you hopeful and committed to yourself and your loved ones. This includes laughing, cuddling, talking, getting or giving a massage… you decide. If it relaxes you without consuming something other than love, do it!

Take time to enjoy what you have this season. Love on somebody. Take care of one another. If you know someone who is battling depression, turn the light on for them (i.e. send a card, genuinely ask how they are coping, hang out with them) Be blessed and enjoy!

** Jamesgirl **


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