Tips for overcoming the Holiday Blues
A well-known Christmas carol begins with the words…”Tis the season to be Jolly…”, but for some, “Tis the season to be Sad/Depressed/Unhappy, etc.” Below are just a few tips for handling your holiday blues.
- Remember the reason for the season. Christmas celebrates the miracle of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Chanukah (the festival of lights) celebrates the miracle of the oil that lasted for 8 days following the rededication of the Jewish temple subsequent to the victory over the battle of religious suppression (by the Greeks) of the Jewish people. Both holidays focus on miraculous events, and as such, the holidays are not as much about gift giving, and more about receiving the gift/miracles afforded us all. (Note: for more detailed information concerning these traditions, please consult with your priest, pastor, or rabbi).
- The holidays is a time of being with family, friends, and loved ones, but for some, our family, friends, or loved ones have either passed away or are unavailable (i.e., distance, military, etc.). Rather than focus on or think about the negative/absence of the person(s), focus on the positives, for example, what would that friend, family, loved one what you to do during this holiday season. Think about what they would want for you, what they would want you to do, feel, think, etc. Remember, the holidays are truly a celebration of miracles and this holiday can be miraculous for you as well.
- Perhaps your holiday blues is due to lack of…finances, job, transportation, etc. Perhaps lack of has you feeling left out, unable to participate in the commercialization of the holiday (i.e., purchasing grand gifts, traveling to be with family/friends/loved ones, etc.). Although society has taught us the lesson of “spend, spend, spend”, what’s most important is spending time with, not money on, family/friends/loved ones. Think of creative ways to show your loved ones you care, that doesn’t require much money to do. Google “creative Christmas gifts” or “creative holiday gifts” for great ideas on how to give gifts within your budget. Moreover, for those who are not able to travel, Skype, Oovoo, Tango, etc. are great video chat options to reach loved ones during this holiday season. Virtual presence is the next best thing to actual presence. Or, you can ask, if possible, your family/loved ones to make you a video or take pictures and send them to you. Though you may not be there in person, there are ways to be part of the celebration, even from afar.
- Perhaps you have been feeling sad, unhappy, down, for quite some time and the holidays only serve to intensify these feelings. Perhaps during this time you feel more withdrawn, isolated, have difficulty sleeping (hypersomnia or insomnia), eating (overeating or no appetite), problems focusing, concentrating, lack energy and lack desire to do things you once found enjoyable. Worse yet, you may feel hopeless, helpless, and have thoughts of wanting to harm yourself, no longer want to live, or be here and these thoughts are accompanied by a plan(s). If so, seek help immediately. If you have no one to reach out to, please seek help from a professional counselor/psychotherapist, social worker, or psychologist- you can search sites like www.mytherapistmatch.com, www.goodtherapy.org, www.therapists.psychologytoday.com, or www.networktherapy.com. For assistance or to speak with someone immediately, call 800-273-8255, 800-784-2433, 877-YOUTHLINE (877-968-8454), 877-VET-2-VET (877-838-2838), 713-HOTLINE, 713-529-TEEN, or 713-526-8088 (ESPANOL) for 24-hour assistance. For additional hotline numbers, go to www.suicidehotlines.com/Texas or Google “suicide hotline.”
Remember, this is the time of year that miracles can happen! You can take steps to ensure you have a happy, enjoyable, and miraculous holiday and new year!
Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, M.Div., MA, LPC-S ©2013
Tips for Overcoming Holiday Stress/Distress
A well-known Christmas carol begins with the words, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but for many people, it’s is not such a wonderful time. Buying gifts, attending Holiday parties, travel plans, college students cramming for final exams, etc., can be an overwhelming and stressful time. This can lead to experiencing “chaos on earth and ill-will toward men,” rather than experiencing “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” Not to worry, following are five P’s on how to overcome the stress/pressures of the holiday season.
- Pace yourself. Do a little bit at a time each day and avoid procrastination. If you find time has passed you by and it is the last minute, take a deep breath, relax, and be mindful of and accepting of what you are able to accomplish.
- Patience- Rome wasn’t built in a day and as such you may not find the “perfect gift” or write that “perfect paper” in one day.
- Pamper yourself. Stress relieving techniques such as aromatherapy, bubble baths, deep breathing, journaling, reading, taking walks, exercise, etc. will prove helpful. Recall what brings you peace of mind, and practice doing it, if even for a minute. Taking stress breaks throughout the day can prove to be a reinvigorating experience.
- Prioritize- make a list in order of importance and seek to achieve/accomplish the items on the list. For example, if it is about attending holiday parties, prioritize which party is mandatory and which party can you arrive late, leave early, or not go at all. Or, if it’s regarding buying a gift, see what items are on sale and when the sale ends as an idea of what to buy first. Or, if its regarding final exams/papers, prioritize which paper/exam is due first, which paper is the shortest, which topic do I know the most about, etc.
- Perspective- your outlook determines your outcome. Be mindful of your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, etc. If you think about or focus on the negative, you will be more attuned to the negative. When you find yourself using words like “always, never, must, and should”, (ex. I’ll never find the right gift, I must travel to see my family, or I always do poorly on written exams, or I should attend this holiday party), challenge yourself to think of times when this was not true (ex., I have found a good gift, I did do well on a written exam several years ago, I have other options to see my family, and I can choose to attend this party or not attend this party). Changing your thoughts can change your feelings and ultimately change your entire perspective.
Wishing everyone has a stress-free holiday season!
Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, M.Div., MA, LPC-S ©2013