The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are slowly but surely creeping up on us and for many, they are happy and joyous times, but for others, they are simply times to find the darkest corners to hide and exclude ourselves. The holiday blues are real and there are millions of people around the world who experience some level of anxiety or depression as these seasons manifest.
There are so many reasons why Thanksgiving and Christmas can be triggering. Death and grief, financial struggles, health issues, marriage and divorce, family drama, singleness, seasonal affective depression, and stress are just the tip of the iceberg.
So how do we manage these symptoms or help a friend or loved one beat these holiday blues?
- Be Inclusive: If you throw an annual Friendsgiving or Christmas party, but you have that one friend who always shades your efforts and declines the invite every year because they absolutely dread the holidays, don’t stop, continue to invite them. Encourage them, and try to nudge them along, while not being too pushy. Some people simply want to feel included and aren’t, which is why they react the way they do. Some have no family and have no choice but to spend these special times alone.
- Say No: You hate the holidays and you try to skip every Christmas movie, every party, and you’re the only person who doesn’t participate in the office Kris Kringle. It’s ok. If that’s what you need for self-preservation and to keep yourself sane during the holidays, we don’t blame you. Do it when you are ready, in your own time.
- Spend Time With People You Love: Spending time with your family and friends is a great way to pull yourself out of a bad place. Don’t skip out on decorating the Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols or a late-night Christmas movie night!
- Travel: Travel is a great way to get away from familiar spaces and memories during Thanksgiving & Christmas. There’s nothing better than sipping a Bahama Mama *wink wink*, on a white sand beach as the sun kisses you!
- Create New Traditions & Memories: If you’re trying to forget old traditions a great way is to start new ones with new people, possibly in a new place. One of the reasons I use to suffer so much during the seasons was because my mind kept replaying old memories. While my goal wasn’t to forget them, it was simply to create new and happy ones to add to my vault. Create the memories you want.
- Volunteer: Thanksgiving & Christmas are great times for you to volunteer to food banks, shelters or churches. Every year I volunteer a day at a local children’s home with family and friends and spend time, open gifts and laugh and play with the children. It is an experience that I am grateful for because it gives life meaning and puts the holidays into perspective for me. How can one possibly be in a rut after all of those smiling faces?
There are many mechanisms that we can use during the holiday season to cope. If you are stuck with the case of the holiday blues, what are some ways that you overcome or deal with it?