Yes, the holiday blues are a real thing. It’s something that I really didn’t understand until someone close to me got them. I really couldn’t understand it. I love this time of year – all the decorations and lights and music. All of it puts a great big smile on my face. But I felt I needed to be more understanding of what they were going through so I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found out.
The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year, yet for many, they trigger deep feelings of sadness and anxiety. There’s so much emphasis on family and celebration, but it’s hard if you’re dealing with difficult memories or reminders that you’re not close to your family. Add cold weather and lack of sunlight and those are conditions to put some into a funk.
The good news: Seasonal doldrums tend to fade once the festivities are over (and if they don’t, consider seeking professional help). In the meantime, here are some tips to help you improve your mood over the next few weeks:
- Seek social support
Hibernation and isolation can feed a depressed mood. Surround yourself with friends, even if you don’t feel like it. Not only are you distracting yourself from your possibly blue thoughts, but being out with others provides you with opportunities for pleasure and joy.
- Get to the gym
Resist any excuse not to go, Or make a bargain with yourself that you only have to exercise for 10 minutes. Your heart rate will start to rise, and most likely you’ll stick it out longer because you’re already there.
- Don’t look at social media (Facebook, Instagram etc.)
4. Help Others
Help others not because you should, but because it is the best antidote to self-pity and seasonal sadness. Find someone who is struggling more than you are, lend them a helping hand, and remember the real meaning of the holidays.
5. Stop by a place of worship
Drop into a Christian church or Muslim mosque or Jewish synagogue or Hindu template or…you get the idea. Sometimes just sitting in sacred space can remind you of the true meaning of the holidays. Most places of worship welcome all people, even those just looking for a touch of grace in the midst of a stressful day. Instead of hurrying by that church you have passed a hundred times on the way to work, take a moment to enter its doors and sit quietly, imbibing the atmosphere and the prayers of its members.
Forgiveness is the slave that heals a broken spirit. Forgive all sorts of people this holiday season—those from your past, your work, your family and the ones in the news whom you love to hate. Read the stories of people (like Martin Luther King Jr. or Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee) who have used forgiveness to move mountains. If they can do it, so can we.
Everything. Love it all. Even the hard times; even the cranky and crooked people of the world; even yourself, with all of your appalling shortcomings.
8. Do something creative and flow-inducing that’s holiday-related.
- If you enjoy writing, brainstorm a list of words that remind you of the holidays and write a short story using as many of those words as you can. Some words you can use are the following: snow; tinsel; presents; bells; angels; Santa Claus; family; ornaments; turkey; tree; cinnamon; carols; red and green; manger; winter; glitter; star; reindeer.
- Also for writers, write an acrostic poem using the word “Christmas”, or another holiday-related word. (An acrostic is a poem in which the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase.)
- If you enjoy music, compose a holiday song, make a video of you singing it, and put it up on YouTube.
- If you enjoy drawing, make your own holiday cards.
- If you enjoy cooking or baking, bake lots of Christmas cookies and share them with whoever looks like they need a cookie. Or, try a new recipe to make on Christmas Eve.
After doing my research I know I just need to be there and now I can make suggestions. Or partake in some of these activities and ask them to join me. I think the best solution for the holiday blues is to do something special for someone else.
December 6, 2017
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
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Dr. Keith S. Ungar, Dr. David Hardy, Dr. Joseph Little, Chiropractic Physicians